Critical Thinking and Managerial Decision Making



Week 6 –workshop (3 hours)


Important points about the course, your progress

More on Decisions (from Kallet text)

Assessments preparation



Important information

For Assessment 3, you should be in a group now. It is your responsibility to get yourself into a group. If you are not in a group, you need to let your Lecturer know asap.

You need to start learning how to work with your team members so that when the time comes to work on your team debate topic (you already have a good idea how to allocate tasks.

You need to finish a team charter (time allocated in this workshop) and attach it as an appendix with your argumentative essay

Keep working on your Second Assessment—Reflective essay

DISK profile finished? Please incorporate it in your reflective essay.



What we learned and are learning today

In the first instance, decisions involve understanding the context….

As we learned earlier in the course, decision-making involves:

Gaining clarity

Strength of the elements of conclusion – facts, observations, experiences, beliefs, assumptions, and then checking their credibility, consistency, ability to provoke change and persuade/influence

conclusions, including high quality conclusions, outside-the-Identified box, abductive and impossible conclusions

Decision-making also involves understanding Who, the Need, When, the Criteria and Risks for deciding which option



Last week: Introduced decision contexts

Contexts are important

Increasingly decision-making starts with identifying if the decisions that need to be made sit in one of the following context categories:





Unclear (which of the 4 above applies)










The Context characteristics The leader’s job Danger signals Response to danger signals
Simple (e.g. Getting reports done on time) Repeating patterns and consistent events Clear cause and effect relationships evident to everyone, right answer exists Known knowns Fact based management Sense, categorise, respond Ensure proper processes in place Delegate Use best practices Communicate in clear, direct ways Understand that extensive interactive communication may not be necessary Complacency and comfort Desire to make complex problems simple Entrained thinking No challenge of received wisdom Overreliance on best practice if context shifts Create communication channels to challenge orthodoxy Stay connected without micromanaging Don’t assume things are simple Recognise both the value and the limitations of best practice



The Context characteristics The leader’s job Danger signals Response to danger signals
Complicated (e.g. Identified that there is a defect in the product) Expert diagnosis required Cause and effect relationships discoverable but not immediately apparent to everyone, more than one right answer possible Known unknowns Fact based management Sense, analyse, respond Create panels of experts Listen to conflicting advice Experts overconfident in their own solutions or in the efficacy of past solutions Analysis paralysis Expert panels Viewpoints of non-experts excluded Encourage external and internal stakeholders to challenge expert opinions to combat entrained thinking Use experiments and games to force people to think outside the familiar



The Context characteristics The leader’s job Danger signals Response to danger signals
Complex (e.g. Must get a crippled space craft back to Earth safely, such as Apollo 13 in real life) Flux and unpredictability No right answers, emergent instructive patterns Unknown unknowns Many competing ideas A need for creative and innovative approaches Pattern based leadership Probe, sense, respond Create environments and experiments that allows patterns to emerge Increase levels of interaction and communication Use methods that help generate ideas, open up discussion to the group, set barriers, stimulate attractors, encourage dissent and diversity, manage starting conditions Temptation to fall back into habitual, command and control mode Temptation to look for facts rather than allowing patterns to emerge Desire to accelerate resolution of problems or exploitation of opportunities Be patient and allow time for reflection Use approaches that encourage interaction and patterns to emerge



The Context characteristics The leader’s job Danger signals Response to danger signals
Chaotic (e.g. Major and unexpected disaster, Hurricane Katrina, Twin Towers) High turbulence No clear cause and effect relationships, so no point in looking for the right answer Unknowables Many decisions to make and no time to think High tension Pattern-based leadership Act, sense, respond Look for what works instead of seeking right answers Take immediate action to re-establish order (command and control) Provide clear, direct communication Applying a command and control approach longer than needed “Cult of the leader” Missed opportunity for innovation Chaos unabated Set up mechanisms (such as parallel teams) to take advantage of opportunities afforded by a chaotic environment Encourage advisers to challenge your point-of-view once the crisis has abated Work to shift the context from chaotic to complex

Who makes the decision?

Decisions easier to make if YOU are the only person involved and will take responsibility for outcomes

In business world seldom just one decision-maker because outside your authority to approve, for example:

Others’ opinion could be useful

Panel of experts required

Board of Directors have ultimate responsibility

Sub-Committees that report to the board

Capital Investment Committee must approve budgets

Recruitment panel to get the right person

Project Steering Committee to avoid project creep

If major decision, often panels of decision-makers, for example:

Major capital investments, require significant budget, resources

Who to hire decisions can be critical

Tender processes must demonstrate high levels probity


Understanding the need

By knowing what needs are behind the decision, can make a better decision. Includes:

You or your team will be responsible, and the performance implications

Sense of urgency understood/established

Decision could be delayed if approvals are required

Must persuade/influence

The benefits of the decision for all parties, the organisation


When is the decision to be made?

Whether the choice is time-dependent or not


Will I see a movie at 8.30 pm? You need to decide well before this time and before all the tickets are gone, especially if a blockbuster

“As soon as possible” may not create urgency

Deadlines create need and stimulate action

Example: Subproject 1 must be completed otherwise Subproject 2 falls behind and the critical timeline for the whole project must be re-evaluated

Few decisions in business that you have the luxury to make whenever you feel like it


Class activities: Exercises for ‘Who’, ‘When’, and ‘Need’

Write down the next 5 things you need to do. Examine this to-do list, and answer the following questions:

1. Are you the decision maker for each of the items on it? Are you sure? When does each item need to be completed, and why is it necessary to decide by that time?

2. Look ahead (ask what’s next) at a decision you will make. Who is the decision maker? By when must that decision be made? What is the business/personal need for the decision? What is personal need of the decision maker to make it?

3. Write down 6 decisions for which you are responsible at school/work and at home. Ask yourself: Do you need someone else to sign off on this? Do you need your significant other, a family member, a lecturer, classmate or a friend to agree before you will proceed? (If so, you are not the decision maker—or at least not the sole decision maker).



Criteria for making the decision

Identify the conditions that need to be met

Work towards identifying the best or an optimal outcome

Example, hiring someone:

Requisite qualifications – Yes/No

Good references – Yes/No

Communicates effectively – Yes/No

Available required hours – Yes/No

Criteria could involve weightings and many parameters




The weightings for the evaluation criteria were declared to tenderers. Both tenderers were evaluated as meeting the minimum requirements of the evaluation criteria.

Evaluation Criteria Weighting

Cost (50%)

Plan for proposal of services (35%)

Experience, capability and past performance (15%)

Cost Plan for services Capabilities TOTAL SCORE
Tenderer 1 Item 1: Item 2: Item 3: Service 1: Service 2: Service 3: Capability 1: Capability 2: Capability 3: Capability 4: 85
Tenderer 2 Item 1: Item 2: Item 3: Service 1: Service 2: Service 3: Capability 1: Capability 2: Capability 3: Capability 4: 90

Can drill down and specify weightings for each cost type, service type, capability type, etc. to get an overall total

Assignment rubrics


Criteria Category % for Assessment 3 % of Course Group’s Scores out of 100%
Group Report 40 24 0
Group Powerpoint 30 18 0
Group Video 10 6 0
Teamwork 20 12 0
TOTAL (%) 100 60 0

Group Report Criteria Max Mark % Fail (0-49%) Pass (50-65%) Credit (65-74%) Distinction (75-84%) High Distinction (85-100%)
Identified an organisation that has recently implemented a sustainability strategy and explained what this involves from an organisational change problem perspective   5   5 0     2.5     3.25     3.75     4.25   5
Insufficiently articulated.   Effectively articulated. Convincingly articulated.   Very convincingly articulated, explaining the implications well. Superior articulation, explaining the implications well.  

Only one aspect of the criteria here

Evaluating risk

Upside risk is the risk of something good not happening

Example: your new hair style not suiting you as much as your previous hair style, a new product not selling as forecast, a strategy is poorly received by staff

Downside risk is the risk of something bad happening

Example: getting caught in heavy rain on the way to an important interview, a cyclone hitting the city, fraud at work, local currency dropping 10%



Downside risks

Probability of downside

Upside risks

Probability of the upside

Can you ignore the statistical probability?

Absorbing/coping with the risk effects. Can you recover if it happens?


Necessity of the upside. Doing without viable? Example. Cars can crash but would you not have a car?

Can you reverse the decision if too much downside?

What is your mitigation strategy

Preeminent statistics present? Can you predict the event so that you can avoid it altogether or mitigate effects?



Must gain clarity and work towards conclusions that can be implemented before a decision can be made

In the first instance, decisions involve understanding the context….

Decisions involve:

Who, need, when


Evaluation of the risks

Next week more on decision processes


Reflection & Application (30 mins)

Get into groups of 3-5 students, reflect on possible relevance/application of the learned concepts of this week in your life, relationships, study and/or work, give justifications and examples.

Present to the class.

Doing this exercise as a group can help you prepare for your Assessment 2—reflective essay (40%) greatly.


Assessment 3

Your team charter for Assessment 3 (sample form available on Moodle)

Format of delivery (e.g., panel discussion, debate with a chair etc.)

The hook, winning over the audience

Obligations to shareholders debate topic:

How to hook the audience, develop a line of argument, structure a debate, identify examples, prepare counterarguments, etc.



Team charter

Look at the document. Think about what might be important to highlight for your group

In the next 10 minutes, identify the following:

Your group’s goals for Assignment 3

How and when will you be communicating/meeting to prepare your debating arguments

Quality assurance methods


Possible format (3 people group)


Chair responsibilities 1 Speaker for the affirmative 1 Speaker for the negative
Introduce the debate topic and two speakers Facilitate the delivery of arguments Conclude the discussion (essential) by revisiting the topic, summarising the affirmative and negative’s major arguments and some compelling closing remarks. Provide a formal introduction Address definitions: Interprets the topic in light of the definition so has the advantage that can set the overall boundaries of the argument Outline one or two arguments and detail them, illustrating with real-life examples or other sources of evidence Summarise and leave a memorable/persuasive ending Provide a formal introduction Address definition: If the affirmative’s definitions are agreed then say so otherwise present your preferred definition and explain why they are superior State the counterargument. Attack why the affirmative team’s argument is wrong Outline one or two arguments and detail them. Illustrate your points with real-life examples or other sources of evidence Rebut previous speaker in terms of detailed arguments presented Summarise and leave a memorable/persuasive ending

Other creative format are also welcomed

E.g., https://

Creative format is a bonus, it is essential that your debate/presentation presents logical & strong arguments from both the affirmative and the negative sides on the basis of extensive research using a minimum of 10 peer reviewed academic journal articles as references.

Rehearsal is critical and should be iterative as you conduct continuous research to strengthen your premises and reinforce your arguments.


Practice: Other People’s Money

Danny Devito’s speech on Moodle

Link https://


Class discussion: The hook

Why did the DeVito character refer to the prayer for the dead in his talk?

Benefits of starting with questions, images, references from history, lines from a poem, words of a song, story from your village, famous last words, analogies, actions, etc.

Some examples https://


What rhetorical devices, etc. have you/others you know used to get the audience to pay attention?


Possible Arguments

How would you argue the following?

Lawrence Garfield (Danny Devito) is absolutely right, shareholders should concern themselves with profits and not what will happen to the community if the company closes down because it is no longer viable.


Developing arguments

In groups consider the following:

If you were the affirmative, how would you define the debate topic?

If you were the negative, would you define the topic in much the same way?

If not, why not and what would you do?

If yes, how would you highlight your point(s) of difference?

What are 3 points that the affirmative might make or 3 examples that they might provide?

What are 3 points that the negative might make or 3 examples that they might provide?

How could the 3rd team member introduce the topic, best facilitate the delivery of two opposing arguments, and bring everything to a conclusion.


Important points to remember

1. Clear division of responsibilities need to be coupled with working closely together as a team to develop coherent arguments and counterarguments.

2. For on campus students, the third team member’s role is critical in introducing the topic, facilitate the delivery and conclude the discussion.

3. Delivery is supposed to be mostly choreographed and rehearsed, not entirely impromptu though some spontaneity is also encouraged. Consider it an educational and entertaining performance.

4. Delivery of arguments in a creative and engaging manner is strongly encouraged.

5. Arguments need to be based on strong premises and conclusions.



Thank you