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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

Making decisions in uncertainty

Councils are often required to make decisions in the midst of great uncertainty and with an absence of reliable data and information. The initial reaction to a poorly understood problem or situation is, more often than not, to avoid it. While this behaviour, on the part of public officials, is often chastised by the community, it is not necessarily irresponsible. We tend to avoid that with which we are unprepared to cope with any degree of certainty.

The next level of decision-making by not making a decision is delay. This is also a common response in highly uncertain situations. Delay, like the avoidance of decision-making, is normal and probably wise in conditions of great ambiguity. However, like avoiding a decision, this strategy will no doubt be misinterpreted by your constituents as another sign of weakness.

The next most adopted tactic, when faced with uncertainty and ambiguity, is to give a limited response, going for a decision that shows concern but limits commitment.

These coping mechanisms, which one could characterize as decision less decisions, are often wise in the face of great uncertainty. On the other hand, they may be positions taken automatically even when there is an absence of ambiguity and uncertainty. When this happens, you have abdicated your leadership responsibilities.

While we consider when to begin, it becomes too late.
- Latin proverb