Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Decision Making in Life

Back in college I had to complete a compulsory module which I thought was a complete waste of time - Management.

I didn't see the merits of having to theorize something so practical. Isn't Management something you learn through hands-on experiences?

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the module; in fact I poured over every single theory and concept thoroughly, consistently doing so well in my class I'd hate myself if I weren't me. I learnt about Gantt charts and was fascinated with how Henry Gantt developed a concept so simple and straightforward, that we now take for granted as a process for project management.

I also found out about the various management school of thoughts, and my favourite quote about management was summarised succinctly by Henri Fayol:
"To manage is to forecast and plan, to organise, to command, to co-ordinate and to control"
I didn't know it back then, but subconsciously it probably made a whole lot of sense to me. Now as my job throws me into the middle of the management pool, I find myself swimming towards the classical approach of being structured. (Which isn't really a good thing. In college we were taught to have management styles borrowed from all schools of thought.)

When I first started I took wobbly steps in decision making. As I grew more experienced with organising and structuring, the top-down approach became second nature to me. Before I knew it, I was making (or at least, trying to make) informed and calculated decisions in the form of a decision tree.


If Outcome 7 had the best calculated decision probability, then steps would be taken to achieve it. We were taught the tree and I was awed by how a complex problem could be broken down into potential actions and outcomes. To solve a problem, all I had to do was: calculate and evaluate.

That was how I was - rational. I applied it not just to work, but life - friends, family, love.

My point is, in life there are so many decisions, uncertainties and outcomes. Lately I've been thinking about the uncertainties - what if I let the heart decide? What if I not make any decisions? What if I just fuck it and do what I'm impulsed to do??

And suddenly I'm in a place where my structured brain is at a loss: you can try and make the best decisions possible, but what if the method of calculation isn't right?

All of this is very depressing. That one day you realise, you've been making decisions on what you THINK is right, but you forgot to account for the many errors and anomalies that life throws you. And after all that calculation, you're probably worse off than before.

For example. You have a $2 note left and you're far from home. The bus ride costs just about $2. You see a crippled beggar with his empty bowl, take pity on him and give him your last $2. Which results in you walking home. Just when you're about to embark on your 45 minute walk, some mean kids pick the $2 off the bowl, leaving Mr Beggar still poor, and you $2 poorer.

And that's Life.

How unfair.

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