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close this bookTraining for Elected Leadership - The Councillor as Decision-maker (HABITAT, 1994, 22 p.)
close this folderPart I. Essay on the councillor as decision-maker
View the documentDefinition
View the documentSummary
View the documentReflection
View the documentConcepts and ideas
View the documentBe rational!
View the documentProblem identification
View the documentAwareness and vision
View the documentReflection
View the documentProblems, symptoms and solutions
View the documentTalk to your problem
View the documentFurther analysis
View the documentQuality and acceptance
View the documentConsequences
View the documentWhat about group decision-making?
View the documentReflection
View the documentOther decision traps
View the documentMaking decisions in uncertainty
View the documentKey points
View the documentReferences

Quality and acceptance

Two dimensions are relevant in assessing the potential effectiveness of your decision. These are: (a) the quality of the decision, and (b) its acceptance by those who either have to execute it or will be affected by it. Both of these will have an impact on the final outcome, which also needs to be considered as you move towards a final decision. The quality of the decision will depend on a number of factors. These factors could include, for example:

· Goal focus: Will the decision we made (the options we decided upon) achieve the goal (or solve the problem) to our satisfaction?

· Resource availability: Do we have the resources to carry out the decision?

· Timing: Is the timing right? In government (politics), timing can be everything.

· Feasibility: Is the decision feasible to implement? Sometimes we have all the other criteria secured, but when it comes right down to it, the decision isn't feasible from an implementation point of view. Sometimes the reason or reasons are totally irrational.

· Adequacy: Is the decision adequate to achieve your goal (solve the problem)? For example, you have just had two flat tires on a lorry that is carrying a load of perishable goods to market. You decide to send your co-worker off immediately to get one of the tires repaired. It's feasible, the timing is right, presumably there are resources to fix the tire, but the decision certainly isn't adequate given the fact that you have two flat tires. There may be other criteria that will help you determine whether or not the quality of your decision is satisfactory. It depends on what your decision is about. Don't hesitate to tailor the decision criteria to meet your needs.

Quality is a major factor in manufacturing circles these days, and it has a specific meaning, associated with the quality of the organization's product. Since decisions regarding policies, community programmes, and the allocation of public resources are the products of councils, it may be useful to look at the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement to see how quality is described.

· One publication summarized the term "quality" as it relates to TQM in two statements:

· Conformance to specifications - quality is defined by the relative absence of defects.

· Meeting customer requirements - quality is measured by the degree of customer satisfaction with a product's characteristics and features.'

These are difficult qualifications to meet in the public sector. Yet, they provide food for thought to those who strive to improve the quality of public services and products.

The other dimension that we suggest be used to determine the effectiveness of your decision-making is its acceptance by those who (a) are responsible for its implementation, and (b) those who must live with its consequences. It is common knowledge that involvement in the decision process by those who will be affected by a decision is important to develop understanding about the decision and why it is being made as well as to gain commitment to it. These two outcomes are reason enough to make all of us think seriously about who we should involve whenever we make decisions that affect others.

The quality aspect of the decision is largely objective and follows the dictates of the rational school of thinking. Acceptance, on the other hand, is more subjective, falling into the arena of behavioural change. Sometimes these characteristics are in conflict.