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Learning to make more effective decisions: changing beliefs as a prelude to action

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Decision-makers in organizations often make what appear as being intuitively obviously and reasonable decisions, which often turn out to yield unintended outcomes. The cause of such ineffective decisions can be a combination of cognitive biases, poor mental models of complex systems, and errors in thinking provoked by anxiety, all of which tend to reinforce the currently held belief structures that reinforce even further resistance to change in people. While Senge has advocated for the use of simulations, called, "microworlds" to overcome such resistance, there are times when such simulations are not available for use or are otherwise infeasible. At these times, alternative methods need to be considered for improving the capacity of managers to learn from experience and improve the quality of their decision-making. Among the alternatives that can be used to improve decision-making are role-play, neuro-linguistic programming, the use of corrective methods related to groupthink, critical thinking skills and failure analysis. A review of the causes of poor decision-making, methods of changing one's beliefs, guiding principles for making better decisions, and a process for improving the quality of lessons learned from experience is presented in this article.
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Keywords: Beliefs; Critical Thinking; Decision Making; Group Thinking; Role Play; Simulation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 5, 2004

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