In my quest to reveal the existence no-decision managers, I discovered that they are proficient in some parts of decision-making but not all, and during this process, I discovered that dictionaries do not agree on a common definition of the word ‘decision.’ They agree on one thing only, that a decision includes the ‘act of deciding.’
One, two or three steps to a decision
A minority of dictionaries believes a decision has only one step: that of the act of deciding. Some dictionaries specify clearly that a decision is a process and includes only two steps: the evaluation of alternatives and then the act of deciding, others only imply that that there are two steps by defining a decision as a ‘choice after thinking about it.’
These dictionaries have omitted the frogs. Phil Jones uses the analogy of frogs in his internet site to explain the third step of a decision;
“There are six frogs on a wall. Two frogs decide to jump off. How many frogs are now on the wall?
OK, I’ll save you the embarrassment: there are six.
The two frogs only decided to jump off; they did not actually jump off.” (Note 1)
For a decision to become reality, an action after deciding is required. In other words a decision is a three step process, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. As would be expected, the Oxford English Dictionary does not tell a story about frogs, their definition of the third step is less poetic and more formal:
“The result of this action or process; that which has been decided; a conclusion, a judgement, a resolution; a choice.”
To take or make a decision?
This complete confusion in the process of decision-making becomes total disagreement in the definition of the two related phrases ‘to make a decision’ and ‘to take a decision’ which I have used abundantly in my articles. Half of dictionaries do not have a definition for either, with comments such as the following:
Sorry, no results for “make a decision” in the English Dictionary.
‘Take a decision’ no word definition found.
No exact matches found for “make a decision.”
‘Take a decision,’ Phrase not found in the Dictionary.
The dictionaries that recognise the phrase ‘to make a decision’ provide three quite different definitions. Some proclaim that ‘to make a decision’ is only the actual moment of deciding but for others it also includes the process leading up to the act of deciding. And then to confuse the issue a few state that ‘to make a decision’ relates only to informal, personal or minor decisions.
For those that recognise the phrase ‘to take a decision’ they again give three quite different definitions. Some dictionaries say ‘to take a decision’ is only the act of deciding not the process leading up to the decision. Others say it is both the act of deciding and what happens after the decision is made, but not before. And then to throw in another bout of confusion, some dictionaries proclaim ‘to take a decision’ is used only in formal, official, serious or important decisions.
But it gets even worse. Many dictionaries proclaim that ‘to take a decision’ does not exist in USA English. It is an expression that has never managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean and is used only in UK English. The Americans make. The British generally make, but sometimes take.
Then to add to this confusion, there is the ludicrous and absurd. It is always out there on the internet, in what is now called ‘fake news’. The most absurd proclaims that ‘to make a decision’ relates to the ‘gold command’ decisions (whatever that means) made by top management, whereas ‘to take a decision’ relates to ‘the spot supervision or low level management decisions’. Just nonsense!
Only the Oxford English Dictionary and two others take a simple approach and state that ‘to make a decision’ is exactly the same as ‘to take a decision,’ which in turn is the same as ‘to decide.’ This is the meaning of these phrases in my articles.
Relevance to no-decision managers
What does all this have to do about no-decision managers? Given, that I have decided to define a decision as a three step process in accordance with the Oxford English Dictionary, I can now admit that the name ‘no-decision manager’ is ultimately misleading and false. As I have already shown in previous articles, no-decision managers are experts in step one and step three of the decision-making process and are only deficient in the second step: the act of deciding, as shown in the following table:
The three steps in the process of a ‘decision’
- Preparation and evaluation of alternatives. No-decision managers excel in this step
- Act of deciding. Does not exist for a no-decision manager
- Implementation of the decision taken. No-decision managers excel in this step
I should have accepted the one step dictionary definition which defines the word ‘decision’, as the act of deciding, and only then can the name ‘no-decision manager’ be accurate and precise, but I would have then lost my theory that no-decision managers are ‘hiding in excellence,’ by being experts in the preparation and evaluation and in the implementation of decisions. But whatever the definition and however no-decision managers behave, they are all incapable of carrying out one precise thing: the ‘act of deciding.’
Note 1 Phil Jones, updated 17 Oct, 2017, www.excitant.co.uk
Note 2 To protect myself from litigation, I have chosen not to name the dictionaries and disclose their competing definitions. There does however exist a more comprehensive article which will remain unpublished, where the nine dictionaries I consulted are named.