For leaders, decision making is a charge that cannot be escaped. For those who prefer to avoid this responsibility, the startling truth is that not making a decision is a decision. Executives, including those who lead community colleges, have critical accountability to build a support network with easy access to pertinent information that carries out decisions as intended. Decision making’s impending risks—particularly in this age of “I need it yesterday”—are amplified by the likelihood of misunderstanding and miscommunication. The man-hours of gathering, analyzing, and prioritizing information behind a good decision can be thwarted without a clear-cut strategy for how to make a decision with that information. This chapter provides insights as to why a United States community college organization’s leadership faltered as a result of decision making. For this domain, this long-neglected dynamic of identifying operational risks was explored using a tailored risk management methodology developed by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). Community colleges, federal agencies, and small businesses have similar concerns about institutionalizing effective decision making; this chapter addresses those complexities specifically within community colleges and provides an understanding of managerial decision making at the executive level.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Context: Context is the circumstances, events, and interrelationships within the organization that provide background information for the risk.
Risk Probability: Risk probability is the likelihood that a risk will occur (Project Management Institute, 2000).
Decision: Decision is an action that must be taken when there is no more time for gathering facts (Moody, 1983); the selection of a proposed course of action (Butler, 1991).
Prioritization: Prioritization is a procedure to rank risks depending on their relationships.
Decision Process: Decision process is the steps or analyses that lead to a decision. Decision processes are often part of a larger business processes (Power, 2002).
Consequence: Consequence is part of a risk statement; a phrase that describes the key, possible negative outcomes of the current conditions that are creating uncertainties.
Risk List: Risk list is a collection of risks affecting an organization. This list contains all the information necessary for a high-level review of the risks.
Decision Maker: Decision maker is each person who works in the business environment (Moody, 1983).
Risk Management: Risk management identifies, assesses, treats, and monitors risks during the entire life cycle, responding to each risk in terms of appropriate treatment and acceptance (ISO/IEC 15288, an industry standard).
Lesson Learned: Lesson learned is knowledge or understanding gained by experience (Secchi, 1999).