Critical Decision Making (322 words)

In the mid-1990s I was an adjunct professor for the graduate program at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. I recently had lunch with one of my students from that time—James Welch—and I will report that the student has become the teacher. He is currently working on his doctorate, specializing in the area of critical decision making.

Jim shared with me the idea of first framing the problem and then suggested five important methods which people employ in their decision making process:

  1. Experience, also referred to as shortcut thinking is where one only uses their personal experiences to decide—relying on the idea that based on one’s experience; situation “A” requires solution “B” rather than considering other possibilities.
  2. Best practices of other businesses, very hot today in management circles. In this situation, frequently the decision is made to adopt what others have successfully done, perhaps rather than to adapt the idea to their particular situation.
  3. Reasoning generally alludes to approaching things through a more logical thought process—this is very good. However it is not necessarily strategically aligned to the organization’s goals.
  4. Collaboration among all involved. Jim made it a point to distinguish between cooperation, where people have agreement, and not necessarily emotional ownership, verses collaboration where people will generally bond—big difference in my book.
  5. Strategy based decision making. This is where the overall strategy of an organization is in the forefront of everyone’s mind and the challenge is framed in a way that is understood by all. Strategic thinking should be embraced throughout every organization.

I so much appreciated the student becoming the teacher that I’ve added some of Jim’s ideas into my seminar titled, Let’s Get Along & Be More Productive; Purposeful Interdepartmental Collaboration.

I challenge you to consider the above methods of decision making when you are attempting to resolve your challenges at work, and at home.


Ed Rigsbee is the consummate evangelist for member recruitment and strategic alliance success. He holds the Certified Association Executive (CAE) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) accreditation. Ed is the author of The ROI of Membership-Today’s Missing Link for Explosive Growth, PartnerShift, Developing Strategic Alliances, and The Art of Partnering. To his credit, he has over 2,500 articles in print and countless articles electronically published.

Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at