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Decision-making Quality

By  Aug 7, 2007

Topics: Information Technology

The need for forward momentum is perhaps one of the negative consequences of the fast pace of modern life. This issue is discussed in ex-world chess champion, Garry Kasparov’s latest book “How life imitates chess”. Kasparov feels that decision-making suffers if insufficient time is taken. He’s not alone. Edward de Bono – the inventor of lateral thinking once said that apart from extreme emergencies there is rarely a need to think quickly. Warren Buffett moved his offices out of New York City to Omaha because he wanted not one good idea every day but one good idea every year. Excessive and unnecessary speed takes a heavy toll on the quality of decision-making.

Western thinking tends to focus on the end result of a decision rather than on improving the thinking that leads to that decision. This is a lost opportunity that may lead to making essentially the same decision time after time.

Low quality decision-making affects all crafts and IT is no exception. Kasparov applies some lessons learnt from a career in which he dominated world chess. He makes a clear distinction between strategy and tactics. Strategy is probably the most difficult aspect of chess to master: it requires planning in unique positions while simultaneously trying to frustrate your opponent’s plans. Tactics relates to immediate concerns (often called forced sequences) where a single mistake can result in losing instantly.

It’s the same thing in IT – how often has a quick (tactical) bug fix or device reconfiguration resulted in some unforeseen (strategic) consequence? Decision-making can be significantly improved by applying some of Kasparov’s suggestions. Not many books can claim to improve peoples’ thinking, so I rate this one as a good read!

Quote of the week: “If it’s not simple, it’s probably wrong”.