The Humanity of Decision-Making: A Business Perspective…

Even with Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Decision Support Systems, humans mostly need to make the final decisions regarding which business strategies they will pursue. As result of this, we can’t escape the humanity of decision-making in business environments.

Nevertheless, because decisions are made by humans, they are influenced by human-like behaviour such as emotions (think about the primary emotions 1: love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear). Since emotions affect our decision-making, without emotion decision-making becomes ineffective says Erik Larson in Forbes.

Indeed, every decision that we make has an outcome. The outcome can be good, bad or nothing…

The humanity of decision-making – success

We all strive to be successful in our businesses. Therefore, if we make the right decisions the financial rewards are great! Even better are accolades that go with decisions that had worked out well – promotion, invites to join the top management strategy workshops, overseas visits… Is that true? Hardly…

Mark Suster made the following remark in ‘Both Sides’: “Have you ever noticed how many leaders are afraid of offering promotions to individual superstars because they’re worried about the impact on the rest of her teammates?” So, if you made a decision to earn or save your company millions of dollars, don’t hold your breath to be rewarded or recognized – you may die suffocating

But what happens when your decision went wrong and is costing your company money?

The humanity of decision-making – failure

Decision-making is about things that will happen in the future. Because nobody can accurately predicts what will happen in the future, many decisions that we make go wrong. Also, there may be dire consequences for decision makers when the decisions they made go south. Somebody needs to be blamed…

One of the reasons that contribute to a series of decision failures is the perceived invincibility of the decision-makers. Praise from others and routinized “success patterns” contribute to managers’ beliefs that their decisions are unlikely to fail. As a result, they make decisions and then move on to the next initiative without considering the outcomes of the earlier decisions 2. A disaster waiting to happen…

And what if no decisions are taken? That’s even worse.

The humanity of not making decisions

“Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.” John C Maxwell quoted in

So if you not able or if you’re afraid to make decisions in your business, you’re in anyway screwed. Good luck for you and your business should you stick around…


Decision-making is done by everyone in an organisation. The higher the position of the decision-maker, the bigger the consequences of his/her decisions. That’s way people sometimes behave differently when confronted with making a decision. This piece is an introduction on a series of post about decision-making to follow.

Further reading:    The Reasons Why Start-up Businesses Fail


1 Shaver, P., Schwartz, J., Kirson, D. and O’Connor, C. 2001. Emotional Knowledge: Further Exploration of a Prototype Approach, In G. Parrott (Eds.), Emotions in Social Psychology: Essential Readings, 26-56. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.

2 Shimizu, K. and Hitt, M.A. 2004. Strategic flexibility: Organizational preparedness to reverse ineffective strategic decisions, The Academy of Management Executive, 18(4):44-59.