Decision Making: Decision is the act of determining in one’s own mind upon an opinion or course of action. It is choosing one alternative among several alternatives given in a particular situation.
In the words of Terry, it is “the selection of one behaviour alternative from two or more possible alternatives”. In fact, decision is a conclusion to long deliberation.
Franklin points out that decision making is understood as an act of determining in one’s own mind a course of action, following more or less deliberate consideration of alternatives and by decision is understood that which is determined.
On the basis of the different points of view expressed above it can be concluded that a decision is a chosen course of action(s) selected out of all perceived or available alternatives by the decision maker based on some criteria and in the light of objectives or purpose to be fulfilled.
Decision is a means; it is not an end itself. Decisions have to be made and re-made in the light of the ends to be achieved. Decisions have to be responsive to varying situations.
a) Need of Decision Making: Decision making is the most important process and an essential element in every activity of library management. It is to be done every day, every time, every point when manager faces problem, when they have to make choices between alternatives, etc. The success and failure of the individual at the top position as well as efficiency of the organization depends much upon taking right and wise decisions. In taking decision it should be remembered that taking no decision is bad but worse is taking a wrong decision.
b) Decision Makers: Decision making in any organization is a cooperative effort. Decisions are the product of long deliberations or collective activity to which many people and agencies participate. If the skills, expertise, knowledge and creativity of the staff member are properly utilized then they can contribute to improve decision making. But at the top of administration is a person who must have a final say, who must ultimately give the final word. This is because of the fact that in the final analysis it is he who has to own the burden of responsibility of the consequences of a particular decision. No doubt as he rises up the ladder, his function will decrease but his responsibilities will increases. It is he alone who can see the enterprise as a whole. So, the power of final decision making must rest with him.
c) Model of Decision Making: John Cowley has mentioned five points on the model of decision making. They are-
i) Own Decision without Detailed Explanation: The manager himself takes the decision without reference to colleagues and does not make any attempt to explain why he has taken the decision.
ii) Own Decision with Detailed Explanation: Taking decision by the manager himself and giving reason later to his subordinates.
iii) Prior Consultation with Subordinate: Prior to making decision, discuss with subordinate and then making decision with or without taking into account the advice offered by subordinate.
iv) Joint Decision Making with Subordinate: Taking joint decision by genuine participation of other staff.
v) Delegation of Decision to Others: Managers may hand over a problem to a member of team for decision making. In such cases although the decision may be reported back but the manager will have little influence in the matter.
d) Factors that Influence Decision Making: Decision making are influenced by the following factors-
i) Institutional Factor: The aspiration, tradition, attitude, objective of the institution influence the decision.
ii) Personal Factor: The academic, professional qualification of the person, his conduct, behaviors, etc influence his own decision. The personal mode of thinking plays a high role in decision making process.
iii) Knowledge: Decision making depends on the availability of facts and necessary data.
iv) Budget: The budget or other resource of the organization also influences the decision.
In the library system, the aims and objectives of the library and parent organization, five laws of library science, readers and users, available staff, etc also play important role in decision making.
e) Process of Decision Making: There are no universally accepted techniques of decision making. In fact decision making is a practical experience and can be learnt by actually taking it. In general, the following sequence of steps can be considered in decision making.
i) Identification of Problem: The librarian should be a diagnostician who should look for the problem underlying apparent symptoms.
ii) General Information: Acquire general background information and different view points about the problem. Collection of all relevant data regarding the problem.
iii) Development of Alternative Solution: There is not a single problem which cannot be solved in more than one way. So find out all the possible method of solution.
iv) Evaluation of the Alternative: Against the decision criteria, the alternative solutions are evaluated.
v) Selection of the Best Alternative: The decision maker has to weigh each alternate in terms of associated risks and gains and decide how much risk he can take and identify which is optimum for this view point and select the solution accordingly.
vi) Consult Others: In taking the decision in the above step some important points may be missed by the decision maker so at this step consult others for knowing certain points which are missed and for getting an opportunity to clarify the decision makers own thought and feelings.
vii) Flexibility: The decision should not be rigid. It should have the provision to change according to circumstances.
viii) Implementation of the Decision: Putting the decision into action.
f) Types of Decision: Generally, decision can be classified into three broad categories-
i) Personal and Organisational Decision: The personal decision attempts to achieve personal goals and generally cannot be delegated to other. The organizational decision attempts to achieve organizational goals and can often if not always be delegated.
ii) Basic and Routine Decision: Basic decisions are those which are permanent in character and are taken for long duration and a degree of importance is such that a mistake would seriously injure the entire organization. Routine decisions are the everyday repetitive management decision which do not bear any great impact on the organization as a whole but play an important role in the successful working of an organization.
iii) Programmed and No-programmed Decision: The programmed decision are those where the problem are of repetitive character and well defined involving tangible consideration to which the economic model that call for finding the best among a set of pre-established alternative can be applied rather literally.
The non-programmed decision refers to problem of no-repetitive sort often involving basic long range question about the whole strategy. The decisions are novel. In structural method of handling the problem because it has not arisen before or because its precise nature and structure are elusive or complex or because it is so important that it deserves a custom tailored treatment.
g) Problems in Decision Making: In general, in the process of taking decision, the following factors creates problems-
i) Routines take too much time: Routine work in the library takes too much time from the librarian so they do not get enough time to devote to this aspect.
ii) Confusion: The librarian is always surrounded by problems. Each problem looks more urgent than the other. The librarian finds it extremely difficult to determine the priority of these problems which take much of their time and create constant worry in them.
iii) Lengthy procedure: Decision taking is a lengthy procedure, so in case of emergency this is generally avoided.
iv) Politics: Today’s society is a group oriented society. Each member of the library is generally the member of some religious or political party. So each person has a different preference and preference rating. This limits the decision making.
v) Lack of information: Lack of knowledge about the available alternative between which choice has to be made also creates problem in decision making.
vi) Changing environment (future as anticipates): The surrounding environment of the library is continuously changing. So a decision taken today may not be relevant tomorrow. This creates another problem in decision making.
vii) Nature and character of the librarian: The irresponsible, non-punctual, absent-minded nature of some librarians and non decisive character of the individual (ultra careful, ultra judicial in his examination of a problem seeing so many aspect of it and so many possible consequences of a particular action that he cannot make up his own mind) creates another problem in decision making.