The definition of decision making according to Wikipedia is “the cognitive process of selecting a course of action from among multiple alternatives” (2006, ¶ 1). Every decision made creates a final choice. Decision making begins when one needs to accomplish something but is unsure how. Decision making can be a rational or irrational reasoning process (Wikipedia, 2006).
Many decision-making models have been developed. One of the models is the Vigilant decision making model. This model provides a framework for the Pathway Evaluation Program. The Pathway Evaluation Program uses this model as a tool to evaluate entering the medical and pharmaceutical fields. The Vigilant decision-making model is applicable to any career-option decision. The American Pharmacists Association claims this model to be “alert, thorough, open, and persistent in looking at and evaluating different possibilities” 2003, ¶ 1).
The first step of the Vigilant decision-making process is appraising the challenge. In this step, one should determine the importance of informed decision-making and acknowledge the consequences of making a passive decision. In making career decisions, a person needs to recognize the importance of taking an active role rather than assuming things will work out. Making a career decision is a difficult task that requires thought and time. Problems will occur if one underestimates the demands of the task or postpones the task (APha, 2003).
The second step is assessing oneself. A person should conduct a thorough self-analysis and assess goals, values, strengths, skills, interests, and preferences. To make a good career decision requires self-knowledge. Self-examination is a difficult task for many people. Making the correct career decision requires an analysis of personal traits (APha, 2003).
Step three is surveying alternatives. Many career paths are available, and one can rule out many options right away. This could be because one does not have the time, energy, or resources to review all possibilities, or one already has an idea what he or she wants to do. A person may overlook exciting possibilities in skipping this step (APha, 2003).
The fourth step is evaluating alternatives. In this step, a person has a list of alternatives and needs to evaluate them. The person searches for new information, matches the self-assessment with the career options, and considers both the positive and negative consequences of all alternatives. Matching preferences and priorities to options that are attractive is important. A person needs to remain open and objective when evaluating the alternatives. Sometimes in this step, steps 2 and 3 may need revisiting (APha, 2003).
The fifth and final step is achieving commitment. After reviewing all the factors, reaching a conclusion is the last step. People must decide the best course of action, which includes a contingency plan in case the first choice does not work out. One must be both intuitive and analytical in this process (APha, 2003).
Critical thinking is necessary in all of these steps. One needs to identify, analyze, and evaluate the options in each step. If in step one, appraising the challenge, students did not analyze the challenges and enrolled without critical thinking, they may fail or drop out once the challenges are realized. If students do not identify their strengths and weaknesses in step two, the wrong course of study may be chosen, and they may find out there is no interest in the classes. Students must identify and evaluate the alternatives using critical thinking to find all possible avenues available. Achieving the commitment is an accumulation of the critical thinking process used in the prior steps. Hopefully, if students used critical thinking strategies, the final step will be easy.
This model is very applicable in a job-related decision. I currently work at US Bank as a business analyst. Before this position, I was a unit manager over the lease accounting area. Management changes in July 2005 and the consolidation of the lease and loan accounting teams resulted in my current position. The accounting area is not an enjoyable area.
Three years ago, a decision was made to return to school. When making this decision, people have to go through the Vigilant decision-making process to decide what area of study appeals to them. Further advancement in my career was not possible without a degree. The commitment involved in returning to school and working full time was a challenge needing appraisal. The consequences of not returning to school would result in a dead-end job.
Then I conducted a self-analysis of my goals, values, strengths, skills, interests, and preferences. Close coworkers were asked for their opinions. In conducting this analysis, I found I liked to work with people in helping make their employment experiences enjoyable and rewarding.
The alternatives were surveyed. These alternatives were limited to a course of study that was available in the evening. At this time, I was only thinking of returning for an associate’s degree. This was probably an oversight in surveying the alternatives, as I never considered a bachelor’s degree. Luckily, the decision worked out in the end.
Since the alternatives were limited to evening programs for an associate’s degree at Fox Valley Technical College, the two alternatives were human resources and supervision. I was already in a supervisory role and believed the human resource program my best choice. The skill assessments led me to believe that the human resource program was the better alternative.
In achieving commitment, I enrolled in the human resources evening program at Fox Valley Technical College. This decision was not a disappointment. This was believed to be my best course of action, and therefore I did not consider a contingency plan.
In December 2005, I graduated from Fox Valley Technical College with an associate’s degree in applied science in human resources. In May 2005, I started realizing that an associate’s degree was still not going to advance me in my career. I was already in a well-paying job that normally would have required a bachelor’s degree. With this realization, the decision-making process began again.
The process repeated with appraising the challenge of continuing school, assessing myself, surveying the alternatives, evaluating the alternatives, and achieving the commitment. I started at University of Phoenix in August 2005 in the bachelor’s program for management with an emphasis on human resources. This required doubling up on classes and attending two different schools for a while, but this was an understandable challenge.
All these decisions apply to my workplace, as I desire to remain an employee at US Bank and needed to find a course of study that would allow me advancement and entitle me to tuition reimbursement. I am hoping to finish my continuing education in early 2007. At that time, I can explore the possibility of transferring to one of the many US Bank locations around the country. I still keep searching the company’s job intranet site for advancement at my current location in Oshkosh.
The Vigilant decision making model is a continuous process that started with the idea of returning to school for an associate’s degree, then was revisited to continue for a bachelor’s degree, and advancement opportunities at work. At this time, there are no plans for a master’s degree. Since at the time of obtaining an associate’s degree, the thought of continuing for a bachelor’s degree did not cross my mind for a long time, I now realize that possibility cannot be ruled out.
In comparing the Vigilant decision making model to the 9-step decision-making model, some steps are similar, and some are expanded further upon. The 9-step model starts with identifying the problem, which is similar to appraising the challenge. Assessing yourself could be compared to defining criteria, goals, and objectives, and evaluating and identifying problems. Frame alternatives and evaluate alternatives equal the same as the Vigilant’s model step 2 and 3 of surveying and evaluating alternatives. The Vigilant model’s step 4 of achieving commitment is the same as step 7 and 8 make or implement the decision. The 9-step model expands on the process by measuring impacts. The 9-step model more clearly identifies steps and is not as broad as the Vigilant’s model. The models are different because the Vigilant model is designed for determining a career, while the 9-step model is for framing the problem.
All decisions can benefit from the Vigilant decision making model and the 9-step decision-making steps model. Major decisions in life, such as marriage or divorce, could take the steps of appraising the challenge, assessing oneself, surveying alternatives, evaluating alternatives, and achieving the commitment. Knowing the path to take to achieve a decision ensures the decision is thoroughly researched.
American Pharmacists Association APha. (2003). Pathways program components. Retrieved April 25, 2006 from http://www.aphanet.org/Pathways/decisionmakingmodel.htm
Pathway Evaluation Program. (2001). Retrieved April 25, 2006 from http://pathway.gsk.ca/medicine/index.html
Wikipedia. (2006). Retrieved April 25, 2006 from http://en.wikipedia.org/