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Programs for decision-makers

Making better decisions takes considerable knowledge and skill, yet decision-making is rarely taught, and when it is, it is narrowly focussed. Discover new concepts and frameworks to help you improve your decision-making in one of our educational programs.

The Sein framework argues that decisions are influenced by who you are, the situation you're in, and your decision-making style. In other words, personality, climate and culture, and decision-making style.

Decision-making, climate and culture and Personality.


A view of decision-making popularised by Daniel Kahneman inThinking Fast and Slow, 2011 is that it is a dual-stage process, one slow and deliberate, the other fast and intuitive. The argument goes that some decisions are best made slowly, such as buying a car or a house, whereas others are better made quickly, such as deciding when to cross a busy road.

However, an alternative approach is that heuristics, or mental shortcuts are better at dealing with complex situations, particularly if time is short.

Our research has shown that senior decision-makers use mental short-cuts, or heuristics to deal with very complex situations, deliberately disregarding much of the information provided. And that those decisions can be very effective.  But of-course there are limits, the heuristic must be a good fit for the problem at hand.

There are two challenge for those dealing with senior decision-makers. The first is to spot when decision-makers are using a heuristic that doesn't fit and are about to make a bad decision. The second is to flood senior decision-makers with “insight” that doesn’t produces more noise than signal.

Team Climate

Team Climate

Climate and culture are different.

While climate is like weather, culture is akin to terrain. Both are inter-linked and experienced at the same time, but climate is largely what people think it is, whereas culture can push back and contradict your opinion.

There are three features that favour the use of team climate. The first is when teams are changing composition such as in projects. The second is when innovation is central to team success. And the third is when psychological safety is important, that is the sense that one feels safe to question authority for instance or push back against what's expected. Other dimensions include, task orientation, and team vision. So, if we have a team that needs to be innovative, harness everyone's creativity, while relentlessly driving to a common goal, that's where team climate is at its best.

Organisation Culture

Organisation Culture

Often described as “the way things are done around here”, culture is much more than that.

Culture according to Schein is comprised of three inter-related layers, namely artifacts such as structures one can touch and see, beliefs and values or ideologies whose effect one can observe, and underlying assumptions or unconscious assumptions about how to behave.

Schein’s  definition of culture - what the group has learned in order to cope with its external environment and organise itself, is more meaningful. According to Schein, culture has structural stability, depth, breadth, rituals, values and behaviours, and is taught to new members. The strength of a particular culture is influenced by the stability of the group’s membership, the length of time the group has existed and the emotional intensity of the process of self-organising to cope with the external environment.

There are over 70 well known instruments for measuring culture, the four most respected cultural tools are, the competing values framework based OCAI, Dennison Organisational Cultural Survey (DOCS), the Organisational Cultural Profile (OCP), and the Organisational Cultural Index (OCI) from Human Synergistics.

We understand these tools and their differences and can advise you on which one to use and how.



Personality is a set of traits that influence perception, feelings, thinking and behaviour, and is relatively stable across situations and over time. There are many instruments to measure personality, for instance, Myers Briggs, DISC, and 16PF. But not all instruments are equal. We prefer the Big Five Aspect Scale (BFAS), as it's a well validated tool, used at the leading edge of personality research.

Personality helps explain behaviour. For instance, those high in conscientiousness tend to be hard working and well organised, those high in openness tend to like theory, innovation, and beauty. And those high in agreeableness are often described as being high in emotional intelligence.

People with different personalities not only behave differently they see the world differently too. Given its relative stability across situations and time, changing personality to change behaviour is questionable from both practical and ethical perspectives, so we focus on changing the situation.

Understanding how personality influences response to situational cues is key to designing the right structure change.


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