That decisions increase risk is not semantics, it is logic.

What is a decision?

When talking about solutions free of decisions, what is meant with a “decision” exactly? The short answer that will be arrived at here is that a decision is an unsubstantiated choice. This is not a new definition — it follows logically from the dictionary definition — but it is a definition which will be strictly applied. The beginning of Decision Free Solutions is grasping the meaning of “decision”.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of “decision” is: “A conclusion or resolution reached after consideration”, and that of “consideration” is: “Careful thought, typically over a period of time”. A decision is thus defined as a conclusion or resolution reached after careful thought.

Taking this definition, and logic, results in the following :

  1. In order to be able to make a decision there must be multiple outcomes possible: a decision is therefore a kind of choice.
  2. There is “a something” that is given thought to, and the decision will affect this something. In other words, there is a purpose or an intent to a decision: a decision is made in the context of a desired outcome (an aim) that is to be achieved.
  3. When something is totally transparent (like letting go of a helium filled balloon you are holding on to), there is nothing to think about (it will rise). Vice versa, when something is given “careful thought” by someone, this is indicative of this something not being fully transparent.
  4. If someone comes to a conclusion or resolution in a situation which is not fully transparent, the impact it will have on the desired outcome is uncertain. If a situation is not transparent, it is not possible to substantiate how and in what way the desired outcome will be affected.

In other words, a decision is a choice made in a situation whereby it is not entirely transparent (at least not to the decision maker) how, what is being considered within the context of an aim, will affect achieving this desired outcome.

If everything would be fully transparent, there would be nothing to give thought to. A decision would not be required as there is nothing to choose between: it would be obvious what to do next.

When in absence of full transparency a decision is made, the decision maker does not fully oversee how, in what way and through which mechanisms this choice will contribute to achieving the desired outcome.  A decision is thus a choice not substantiated to contribute to achieving a desired outcome — or “an unsubstantiated choice” for short. From this follows logically that a decision increases the risk the desired outcome will not be achieved.

“If decisions really increase risk, we wouldn’t make so many”

“To state that decisions increase risk, and that this follows from its dictionary definition, doesn’t make it so. When we make decisions we don’t feel like we are doing something daring, or irresponsible. We do it all the time. It is practically impossible to avoid them, and why should we, really? If decisions really increase risk, we wouldn’t make so many, we would have figured it out by now. It is just clever semantics.”

We make decisions because we often don’t have (or are not aware of) an alternative, because the risk that is associated with it doesn’t occur instantly, because decisions are made around us by practically everyone pretty much all of the time, because making a decision is often status-affirming and can give us an enjoyable sense of control over a situation which may not be all that transparent to us, because our organisations are designed to facilitate decision making through a hierarchical structure where everybody within the organisation knows exactly whom to turn to to have one made.

There is a lot that can be said about decisions, and in the DFS article “On Decision Making” you can learn all you need to know about it. You find the article here.  

***

The approach of Decision Free Solutions uses four steps (DICE), five principles (TONNNO) and the role of the Decision Free Leader (DFL) to achieve this. An introduction to the approach of Decision Free Solutions is provided in a short article you will find here.

 

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