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PRDV203: Introduction to Management

Unit 5: Decision Making, Brainstorming, Creativity and Problem Solving   As manager or supervisor, your team will be looking to you to make decisions and lead them through the process of problem solving. When analyzing a situation, however, managers’ preconceptions might cloud their ability to accurately perceive the problem. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to mistake symptoms for causes. There also may be times when you must make decisions quickly and under pressure. The information you have at hand may be incomplete. Yet hesitation or indecisiveness may cause a situation to worsen for your company and team, possibly resulting in the loss of confidence in your leadership. In this unit, we hope to present a number of decision-making and problem-solving techniques that will help you clarify a situation and its root causes, generate alternatives, and select one of those alternatives in a timely fashion.
 
Creativity is a desirable trait in all endeavors, but we discuss it here in conjunction with decision making because it is necessary to produce many alternatives in the decision-making process. Brainstorming is a particularly well-known technique associated with the generation of creativity, so we present the two subjects together.

Unit 5 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 4.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 5.1: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 5.2: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 5.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 5.4: 0.25 hours

☐    Subunit 5.5: 1.75 hours

Unit5 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - explain why decision making is important to a manager; - describe various conventional decision-making processes; - explain the elements of brainstorming techniques and how to apply these to a work situation; - explain problem-solving techniques and how to apply these to a work situation; - explain why creativity is important to decision making; - explain techniques that assist in enhancing creativity; and - explain a method to determine an appropriate level of staff involvement in decision making.

5.1 Decision Making   - Reading: Principles of Management: “Chapter 11, Section 1: Understanding Decision Making” Link: Principles of Management (PDF): “Chapter 11, Section 1: Understanding Decision Making”
 
Instructions: Read pages 426-435 of the “Understanding Decision Making” section.
 
Reading this section should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

  • Reading: Principles of Management: “Chapter 11, Section 2: Faulty Decision Making” Link: Principles of Management (PDF): “Chapter 11, Section 2: Faulty Decision Making”
     
    Instructions: Read pages 441-446 in the “Faulty Decision-Making” section.
     
    Reading this section should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

5.2 Brainstorming   - Reading: Tyner Blain: Scott Sehlhorst’s “Brainstorming -Making Something out of Everything” Link: Tyner Blain: Scott Sehlhorst’s “Brainstorming - Making Something out of Everything” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this article to learn how to facilitate brainstorming sessions with groups.
 
Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. It is attributed to Scott Sehlhorst, and the original version can be found here.

  • Web Media: Denny McCorkle’s I Geek for Creativity: “Brainstorming: the Good, the Bad, and the Do It Better” Link: Denny McCorkle’s I Geek for Creativity: “Brainstorming: the Good, the Bad, and the Do It Better” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Watch the two videos on this page; the first shows a productive brainstorming session, the second a rather fruitless session. Note that although the videos show teams brainstorming a product, you can apply these same techniques to modify processes or systems, which you are more likely to work with. In fact, near the end of the first video, the commentator notes that the company was asked by clients to rework corporate cultures.
     
    Watching these videos and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Denny McCorkle, and the original version can be found here.
     

5.3 Problem Solving   - Reading: Litemind’s “Creative Problem Solving with SCAMPER” Link: Litemind’s “Creative Problem Solving with SCAMPER” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read through the article, and then skim over the helper questions and trigger words. Briefly examine the SCAMPER resources at the end of the article. If creative problem solving is of interest to you, you may want to bookmark this site for future reference.
 
Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Litemind, and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: Litemind’s “Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)” Link: Litemind’s “Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article, focusing on strategies to help you see problems from many different angles. The article also stresses that the most important step in solving any problem is clearly defining what the problem is before you start searching for solutions. Take notes as you read.
     
    Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. It is attributed to Litemind, and the original version can be found here.

  • Activity: Problem Solving Exercise Instructions: Keep the previous article -“Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)” -in mind, and consider any management or personal problem that you are currently experiencing. Apply the techniques described in the reading.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 15 minutes.

5.4 Creativity in Decision Making   - Reading: Principles of Management: “Chapter 11, Section 1: Understanding Decision Making” Link: Principles of Management (PDF): “Chapter 11, Section 1: Understanding Decision Making”
 
Instructions: Read pages 435-439 of the “Understanding Decision Making” section.
 
Reading this section should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

5.5 Applying Decision-Making Techniques   5.5.1 How Much Participation Should You Ask from Your Employees?   - Activity: Principles of Management: “Chapter 10, Section 3: Vroom and Yetton’s Normative Decision Model” Link: Principles of Management (PDF): “Chapter 10, Section 3: Vroom and Yetton’s Normative Decision Model”
 
Instructions: Complete the activity “Vroom and Yetton’s Normative Decision Model” on pages 402-406 if you have not already. Do not be put off by the official-sounding title. This is simply one of many decision-making tools available to managers, and you should try your hand with this one. If you can apply this decision tool to any of your current work situations, do so.
 
Completing this activity should take approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

5.5.2 Decision-Making Exercises   - Activity: Principles of Management: “Chapter 11, Section 1: Understanding Decision Making -Exercises” Link: Principles of Management (PDF): “Chapter 11, Section 1: Understanding Decision Making -Exercises”
 
Instructions: Answer the five questions in the “Exercises” section on pages 439-440.
 
Completing this activity should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 5 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 5 Assessment” (HTML)

    Instructions: Complete this assessment to assess your understanding of the topics covered in this unit. The correct answers will be displayed when you click the “Submit” button.