A review of Judgment in Managerial Decision Making by Max Bazerman
Books on management and decision making usually talk about logic, realism, forecasting, and unbiased thought. However, Max Bazerman takes the opposite route in Judgement in Managerial Decision Making by first of all acknowledging first hand that managerial decisions are almost always influenced by personal biases . This is the first point that grabbed my interest. The management textbooks pertaining to decision making that I have read, although discussed individual preconception, they did so in the fashion of a cursory glance. Bazerman covers the subject with such depth and breadth that the book gives the reader several ‘I didn’t know that’ moments over the course of the reading.
The second point that appealed to me about the book was the simplicity of explanations and language used by the author. It seemed to me that Bazerman made it a point to avoid any unnecessary usage of jargon or even uncommon, complex words that would be difficult to understand. He maintains a toned down, almost casual pitch throughout the book, which it made it easier for to follow what was being conveyed, making the book a more interesting read. I felt that the book has something in it for everyone and its lessons could be followed by managers at all levels of an organization, whether supervisors or top managers, and this further added to the appeal of the book. In fact, the author’s take on how an individual’s personal experiences influences the first perception and reaction towards a given situation stands true even in everyday life and hence I feel the scope of the book can go beyond people who are managers within organizations and extends to anyone who is trying to manage everyday problems.
While I mostly liked the book, there were certain portions that I felt could have been better. To begin with, while the book’s main lessons are all about how to overcome personal biases and exercise an influence free judgement when making decision, Bazerman also points out that, at the end of the day, biases will exists at least in a small degree. However, I feel that, until and unless a manager is morally and ethically well guided, they will not attempt making unbiased decision making. Survival is a human instinct and, in my experience, people almost always guard their bases first. Hence, given a choice between doing what is ‘right’ and doing what benefits personal goals, a person is more likely to be biased towards personal gain. For this reason I felt that, while Bazerman’s effort towards understanding and minimizing the influence of biased judgement, this seems to be an unlikely possibility. The author may be aware of this glaring fact at some conscious level as he mentions the inevitability of bias. However, he does not ponder on this aspect long enough, which makes it seem as though he is trying to avoid drawing attention to this paradox.
The most important lesson that I learned from this book is that, although our decisions may be influenced by the experiences we have in our lives and how these have moulded our perception, understanding the why and how of this influence can enable managers to minimize the negative impact that it may have on their decision making skills.
Judgement in Managerial Decision Making by Max Bazerman covers the subject of personal biased with great detail and gives a fresh take on decision making.
Bazerman, M., & Moore, D. (2005). Judgment In Managerial Decision Making. Wiley.