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Decision Tree Analysis Process Essay

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Steer your decision-making process in the right direction.

How you go about making a decision can involve as many choices as the decision itself.

Sometimes you have to take charge, and decide what to do on your own, but you don't want to appear autocratic to your team (particularly in situations where you need their input). At other times it's better to make a decision based on the group consensus, but this can use up precious time and resources. So how do you decide which approach is best?

Every manager needs to be able to make good decisions. A systematic approach to decision making, such as the Vroom-Yetton Decision Model, allows you to bring consistency and order to a process that might otherwise feel idiosyncratic and instinctive. It can also help you to determine the most effective means of reaching a decision.

Understanding the Model

The Vroom-Yetton model is designed to help you to identify the best decision-making approach and leadership style to take, based on your current situation. It was originally developed by Victor Vroom and Philip Yetton in their 1973 book, "Leadership and Decision Making."

No single decision-making process fits every scenario. Instead Vroom-Yetton offers a number of different processes and directs you toward the best one for your situation. For example, if speed and decisiveness are required then it will likely point you toward an autocratic process. If collaboration is what's needed, then it will nudge you toward a more democratic process.

Researchers have found that managers are more effective, and their teams more productive and satisfied, when they follow the model. The simplicity of Vroom-Yetton also means that anyone – from the boardroom to the factory floor – can use it.

Although a little long-winded at times, it can be particularly helpful in new or unusual situations. Practice using it, and you'll quickly get a feel for the right approach to take, whether you're making a decision about a day-to-day issue or dealing with a more complex problem.

Before you start using the model, you'll need to consider these three factors:

  • Decision quality – Sometimes, making the "right" decision is critical, and you'll need to use a large number of resources (people, time, information, and so on) to ensure that the action you take has been well thought through and is of high quality.
  • Team commitment – Some of your decisions will have a major impact on your team, while others will go unnoticed. When a decision will likely impact your team, it's best to use a collaborative process. This will improve the quality of the decision, and you'll likely deliver a successful result faster.
  • Time constraints – When the issue at hand isn't time sensitive, you have more "space" to research your options and to include others, which will help to boost the quality of your decision. If your time is limited, however, it may not be feasible to include others or to undertake thorough research.

Specific Leadership Processes

Figure 1, below, shows the Vroom-Yetton model. The framework poses seven "yes/no" questions, which you need to answer to find the best decision-making process for your situation.

As you answer each of the questions, you work your way through a decision tree until you arrive at a code (A1, A2, C1, C2, or G2). This code identifies the best decision-making process for you and your team. (Note that, in some scenarios, you won't need to answer all of the questions.)

Figure 1: The Vroom-Yetton Decision Model

The Vroom-Yetton Decision Tree: Adapted from Leadership and Decision Making by Victor H. Vroom and Philip W. Yetton by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 1973 University of Pittsburgh Press.

The following codes represent the five decision-making processes that are described by the model:

Autocratic (A1): You use the information that you already have to make the decision, without requiring any further input from your team.

Autocratic (A2): You consult your team to obtain specific information that you need, and then you make the final decision.

Consultative (C1): You inform your team of the situation and ask for members' opinions individually, but you don't bring the group together for a discussion. You make the final decision.

Consultative (C2): You get your team together for a group discussion about the issue and to seek their suggestions, but you still make the final decision by yourself.

Collaborative (G2): You work with your team to reach a group consensus. Your role is mostly facilitative, and you help team members to reach a decision that they all agree on.

In general, a consultative or collaborative style is most appropriate when:

  • You need information from others to solve a problem.
  • The problem can't be easily defined.
  • Team members' buy-in to the decision is important.
  • You have enough time available to manage a group decision.

An autocratic style is most appropriate when:

  • You have greater expertise on the subject than others.
  • You are confident about acting alone.
  • The team will accept your decision.
  • There is little time available.

Note:

Vroom-Yetton is a useful model, but it's not necessarily appropriate for all eventualities. It misses out several important considerations, and its rigid structure means that it fails to take into account subtleties, such as the emotions and dynamics of your team, and the task’s complexity. The seven questions are imprecise, too – "importance" and "quality," for example, are vague terms – and it can be difficult to give straight "yes" or "no" answers to them.

Vroom and Arthur Jago addressed these weaknesses and amended the original model in their 1988 book, "The New Leadership." The newer model is more complex and includes several additional questions, which allow users to take other constraints, such as geographic location, into account when making their decision. It also uses a mathematical formula to help people to pinpoint the optimum decision-making process for their situation. The newer version of the model is often referred to as either Vroom-Jago or Vroom-Yetton-Jago.

Key Points

The underlying assumption of the Vroom-Yetton Decision Model is that no single leadership style or decision-making process fits all situations.

To find the process best suited to your situation, you need to consider a number of factors. These include time constraints, the level of team participation required, and the quality of the final decision.

The model walks you through these factors logically, to help you to identify the most appropriate process and style. It is particularly useful for managers and leaders who are trying to balance the benefits of participative management with the need to make decisions effectively.

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Learning Objective

  1. Read an example of the process analysis rhetorical mode.

How to Grow Tomatoes from a Seedling

Growing tomatoes is a simple and rewarding task, and more people should be growing them. This paper walks readers through the main steps for growing and maintaining patio tomatoes from a seedling.

The first step in growing tomatoes is determining if you have the appropriate available space and sunlight to grow them. All tomato varieties require full sunlight, which means at least six hours of direct sun every day. If you have south-facing windows or a patio or backyard that receives direct sunlight, you should be able to grow tomatoes. Choose the location that receives the most sun.

Next, you need to find the right seedling. Growing tomatoes and other vegetables from seeds can be more complicated (though it is not difficult), so I am only discussing how to grow tomatoes from a seedling. A seedling, for those who do not know, is typically understood as a young plant that has only recently started growing from the seed. It can be anything from a newly germinated plant to a fully flowering plant. You can usually find tomato seedlings at your local nursery for an affordable price. Less than five dollars per plant is a common price. When choosing the best seedling, look for a plant that is short with healthy, full leaves and no flowers. This last point tends to be counterintuitive, but it is extremely important. You do not want a vegetable plant that has already started flowering in the nursery because it will have a more difficult time adapting to its new environment when you replant it. Additionally, choose a plant with one strong main stem. This is important because the fewer stems that a tomato plant has, the more easily it can transport nutrients to the fruit. Multiple stems tend to divide nutrients in less efficient ways, often resulting in either lower yields or smaller fruit.

Once you have found the right seedlings to plant back home, you need to find the best way of planting them. I recommend that you plant your tomatoes in containers. If you have the space and sunlight, then you can certainly plant them in the ground, but a container has several advantages and is usually most manageable for the majority of gardeners. The containers can be used in the house, on a patio, or anywhere in the backyard, and they are portable. Containers also tend to better regulate moisture and drain excess water. Choose a container that is at least 10 inches in diameter and at least 1 foot deep. This will provide sufficient room for root development.

In addition to the container, you also need the appropriate soil mixture and draining mechanisms. For the best drainage, fill the bottom of your container with 2 or 3 inches of gravel. On top of the gravel, fill ¾ of the container with soil. Choose a well-balanced organic soil. The three main ingredients you will find described on soil bags are N-P-K—that is, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Without going into too much detail about the role of each element in plant growth, I will tell you that an average vegetable will grow fine in a 10-5-5 mixture. This ratio, too, will be easy to find at your local nursery.

Once you have the gravel in the bottom of the container and the soil on top, you are ready to transplant the tomato. Pick up the tomato in the plastic container it comes in from the nursery. Turn it upside down, and holding the stem between your fingers, pat the bottom lightly several times, and the plant should fall into your hand. Next, you should gently break up the root ball that formed in the nursery container with your hands. Be gentle, but be sure to rip them up a bit; this helps generate new root growth in the new container. Be careful not to damage the roots too much, as this could stunt the growth or even destroy the plant altogether.

Next, carve out a hole in the soil to make space for the plant. Make it deep enough to go about an inch higher than it was previously buried and wide enough so all the roots can comfortably fit within and beneath it. Place the seedling in the hole and push the removed soil back on top to cover the base of the plant. After that, the final step in planting your tomato is mulch. Mulch is not necessary for growing plants, but it can be very helpful in maintaining moisture, keeping out weeds, and regulating soil temperature. Place 2–3 inches of mulch above the soil and spread it out evenly.

Once the mulch is laid, you are mostly done. The rest is all watering, waiting, and maintenance. After you lay the mulch, pour the plant a heavy amount of water. Water the plant at its base until you see water coming through the bottom of the container. Wait ten minutes, and repeat. This initial watering is very important for establishing new roots. You should continue to keep the soil moist, but never soaking wet. One healthy watering each morning should be sufficient for days without rain. You can often forego watering on days with moderate rainfall. Watering in the morning is preferable to the evening because it lessens mold and bacteria growth.

Choosing to grow the patio variety of tomatoes is easiest because patio tomatoes do not require staking or training around cages. They grow in smaller spaces and have a determinate harvest time. As you continue to water and monitor your plant, prune unhealthy looking leaves to the main stem, and cut your tomatoes down at the stem when they ripen to your liking. As you can see, growing tomatoes can be very easy and manageable for even novice gardeners. The satisfaction of picking and eating fresh food, and doing it yourself, outweighs all the effort you put in over the growing season.

This is a derivative of Writing for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA. This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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