Individuals in an organisation make decisions, based on two or more alternative choices. According to Sanders ‘decision making occurs as a reaction to a problem’ (1999, p. 44); this is where there is a discrepancy between some current state of affairs and some desired state, requiring the consideration of an alternative course of action. It can therefore be seen that ‘the awareness that a problem exists and that a decision needs to be made is a perceptual issue’ (Robbins et al 2004, p. 139). This is because the need to choose, and the decision between the two that is eventually derived, is based on the decision maker’s perception of what is the best decision. In order to do this successfully, every decision must require the interpretation and evaluation of information (Robbins et al, 2004, p. 139). Furthermore, successful decision-making requires the three components of creativity. These include, ‘expertise, creativity skills and task motivation’ (Amabile 1997, p. 43)
The optimum decision maker is rational. According to Simon a rational decision maker is one who ‘makes consistent, value-maximising choices within specified constraints’ (1986, p. 209). The most prominent key to developing the most rational decision, is to have a thorough understanding of the processes required to develop such a decision and this key can be developed by understanding the six steps in the rational decision-making model (Harrison 1999, p. 76).
- define the problem
- identify the decision criteria
- allocate weights to the criteria
- develop the alternatives
- evaluate the alternatives
- select the best alternative
(Harrison 1999, p. 76)
One unit of Nepean Hospital is its Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Part of the daily routine within ICU requires frequent manual handling of the unconscious or unable to move patients as a prophylaxis to pressure area sores. Due to the growing rate of obesity in society, many clients weigh in excess of 150kgs, making it both physically difficult and dangerous to roll the patients and slide them up the bed. Based on the rational decision-making model, the first step has been determined: it is unsafe to manually move the patients of this weight.
Now the second step is to determine a decision criteria, in this case: to develop a means of safely moving an unconscious client who weighs in excess of 150kgs, to do so in a cost effective manner, keep the human resources required to a minimum, and be capable of doing it in a time effective manner.
The third step in this process is to allocate weights to the criteria. In this case, the most important criteria is to be able to move the unconscious client who weighs in excess of 150kgs safely, followed by doing so in a cost effective manner, with the least amount of time involvement, lastly followed by doing so with the least amount of human resources.
The fourth stage is to develop the alternatives. These can include: utilize an air mattress that reduces the frequency in which you must move the patient, utilize a bed that has good tilting options, allowing for the use of gravity assisted movement, the utilization of hover mattresses that decrease the physical effort of moving a patient, the use of a Jordan Frame to mechanically lift the patient and the use of 4 to 6 employees where 2 would be sufficient for a lighter patient.
The fifth stage is now to ‘evaluate and analyze the alternatives by rating each alternative on each criterion’ (Robbins et al 2004, p. 140). In this case, the first option of an air mattress would be useful by decreasing the frequency in which employees must move the patient; however, it does not make it easier of safer when they do have to; furthermore, the cost of hiring such a bed may be very dear on economic restraints, but it will be more efficient on human resources. The second option would be beneficial in reducing the danger in moving such a patient, however, many patients in ICU are not able to be tilted downwards due to head injuries and poor lung function, making such an option poor for the patient’s safety; however based on both financial and human constraints this would be an excellent option in many cases. The third option allows the mattress to inflate with air acting as a hovercraft and making it physically much easier to move the patient. This makes it safer. Economically, it requires some original outlay, but can be used on literally thousands of patients so long as it is properly cleaned, as well as allowing less employees to be required when moving the patient, and doing so in a time effective manner. Lastly, the use of a Jordan Frame, does provide a very safe manner of moving a patient, with reasonable small financial cost, minimal human resource expenditure, but excessive time involvement.
The last stage in the process of determining a rational decision is to select the best alternative. In this, case the third option, being that of the hover mattress achieves the highest score when evaluating each alternative against the weighted criteria.