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Background material by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. at a postgraduate management workshop held at the Institute of Medicine Universiti Brunei Darussalam on 25th November 2008

Preliminaries of decision-making
Put yourself in the right frame of mind: be open-minded, and assure that all possibilities are under consideration. Visualize the larger picture. Put the decision situation in proper context. Review previous related decisions. Decide whether the decision is necessary/needed. Stop a bad decision before making a better one. Assess the degree of risk. Assess the level of uncertainty. Decide whether the decision was anticipation or is a surprise. Assess how does this decision relate to others? Find out what are the existing biases? Think about implementation of the decisions. Identify what are the resources available for decision-making? Decide on the method of decision-making

Need for a decision
In preparation for decision-making, you must decide whether the decision is necessary or is needed. Previous related decisions must be reviewed. The decision must be viewed in the context of the larger picture. Any previous bad decisions must be stopped before a new decision is considered.

Stages of rational systematic decision making
Rational-systematic decision-making should proceed in stages as shown below. Skipping one stage or not giving it enough time and effort will lead to a poor decision. The issue or situation requiring a decision must be recognized and classified. As much relevant information as possible must be collected. Assumptions and forecasts are used to complete the information base. Decision alternatives are then generated and the best of them is selected as the decision of choice. The impact of the chosen decision is studied. Then the decision maker must stop to allow the intuitive processes to operate and also to make ISTIKHARA. After the decision is arrived at implementation should follow.

Recognition of issues requiring a decision
The following questions should be asked: what is the issue? what is its scope?

Classification of the issue
The following questions should be asked: what is the priority of this issue? what is its importance? what is its urgency?

Collection of Information
Collection of information is the most important step. While collecting information for decision-making you should avoid the trap of looking for and selecting information that confirms your previous biases. Information may be gathered first-hand or second-hand. First-hand information obtained by the decision-maker through personal experience is more valuable. As much as possible first-hand information should be used. Second-hand information is a second alternative. What is usable in decision-making is information and not opinions of others. Strive to separate personal opinions or personal interpretation of information from the real information when you consult others. Any information collected must be cross-checked and dated by use of another source. Checking for internal consistency may also help identify valid information. Nothing is worse than a decision based on wrong information. The process of gathering information opens up new horizons, may lead to new questions, and therefore helps in identifying solution alternatives. You must avoid the double jeopardy of not knowing what you do not know. The fact that some crucial information is unavailable should be taken into consideration while making a decision. You should not confine yourself to only readily available information, the most recent or the most vivid.

Making assumptions and forecasts
In real life you can never collect all the information you need for a decision. You may have to fill in the gaps by assumptions and forecasts. Experienced persons who have a broad vision can make fairly accurate assumptions and forecasts

Considering resources
Decisions are made to be implemented. Implementation requires resources. A quick review of the resources available should be made before proceeding further with the decision-making process.

Generation of decision alternatives
The following methods can be used to generate alternative decisions out of which the best will be selected by a process of elimination: questions, analogy, imagination, and association.

Selection of the best alternative
The following methods are used in selecting the best decision alternative: ranking, pros & cons, and comparative evaluation. When considering decision alternatives, the easier one should be selected if it fulfills all the other criteria.

Analysis of the expected future impact of the decision
Decisions are about the future. This fact simple as it may appear may not always be clear to many leaders. You have to disengage emotionally from whatever happened in the past, good or bad, and look at the future implications of the decision being made.

For major decisions you must leave time between reaching a decision and its implementation. During this time you can perform salat al istikhara. It is also time to review the decision in a relaxed mood. This pause allows your intuition to play its role. When a decision is right you normally feel good about it

Implementation of the decision
When decisions are made they should be implemented. Shelving a decision without a conscious decision to do so is disrespect for the decision-making process. It is an indication of lack of seriousness and organizational inertia.

Impact analysis
After implementation of the decision,  is an attempt to see to what extent a decision caused change in the intended direction. For example an area with a certain social program could be compared with another that did not have the program. Also the status pre and post decision-implementation could be compared. Sometimes process and not result analysis is used. You evaluate a decision on the basis of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

Tips for good decisions
The following are tips about making correct decisions:
·              Identify the correct context: helps avoid wrong situation/problem
·              Define reference points, boundaries
·              Ask the right questions
·              Collect information
·              0Use systematic rules
·              Learn from experience
·              Use feedback

Choosing the easier alternative: “Aisha said: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) was never given his choice between two things without taking the easier (or lesser) of them provided it involved no sin, for if it did, no one kept further away from it than him...  Abu Daud 3:1341, Chapter 1713, Hadith #4767

 … “Narrated Aisha: Whenever Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) was given the choice of one of two matters, he would choose the easier of the two, as long as it was not sinful to do so, but if it was sinful to do so, he would not approach it, Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) never took revenge (over anybody) for his own sake but (he did) only when Allah’s legal Bindings were outraged in which case he would take revenge for Allah’s sake” Bukhari 4:491, Hadith #760

Istikhara: "Jabir b. Abd Allah said: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) used to teach us the supplication for istikharah (seeking what is beneficial from Allah) as he would teach us a surah (chapter) from the Qur'an. He would tell us: When one of you intends to do a work, he should offer two supererogatory rakahs of prayer, and then say (at the end of the prayer): " O Allah, I seek what is good from you by your knowledge, and I seek power from you by your power, and I ask you for your vast grace, for you has power, and I have no power, and you know and I do not know, and you best know the unseen. O Allah, if you know that this work (one should name the work one is intending to do) is good for me, for my religion and for my livelihood, for my next world, and for the consequence of this work of mine, then appoint it for me, make easy for me, and give blessing to me in it. O Allah, if you know that it is evil for me and for all those things mentioned formerly, then turn me away from it, and turn it away from me, and appoint for me what is good, wherever it is, and make me pleased with it." A version goes: " If the work is good immediately or subsequently". Abu Daud 1:399, Chapter 517, Hadith # 1533. 


Writings of Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr

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