Problem-solving involves identifying an issue, finding causes, asking questions and brainstorming solutions. Gathering facts helps make the solution more obvious. Decision-making is the process of choosing a solution based on your judgment, situation, facts, knowledge or a combination of available data.


This unit focuses on two key management functions in schools: Decision-making and Problem-solving. Exceptions apart, the work performed by school heads involves or is related to decision making in the institution. Problems are addressed. Choices are made. Resources are committed. Consequences are experienced. These decisions have the potential to have a considerable impact on the school and its members.

After going through this unit, you should be able to:
1) define decision-making and problem-solving;
2)explain the importance of decision-making and problem-solving skills;
3) understand the types of decisions and decision-making styles;
4) describe the attributes of an effective decision maker;
5)discuss a model for problem-solving: and
6)I apply the model as a way to improve your decision-making styles.

Approaches to problem solving;

There are many approaches to problem-solving, depending on the nature of the problem and the people involved in the problem.
Rational Approach
The rational approach involves clarifying, giving description of the problem, analysing causes, identifying alternatives, assessing each alternative, choosing one, implementing it, and evaluating whether the problem was solved or not.
Appreciative Inquiry ,
This approach asserts that “problems” are often the result of our own perspectives on a phenomenon. For example, if we look at a particular’ situation as a “problem,” then it will become one and we’ll probably get very stuck with the “problem”. Appreciative inquiry includes identification of our best times about the situation in the past, wishing and thinking about what worked best then, envisioning what we want in the future, and building from our strengths to work toward our vision.

Decision-making Process;
The basic characteristics of decision-making are as follows:
It is the process of choosing a course of action from among the alternative courses of action.
It is a human process involving to a great extent the application of intellectual abilities.
It is the end process preceded by deliberation and reasoning.
It is mostly related to the environment. A decision may be taken in a particular set of circumstances and another in a different set of circumstances.
It involves a time dimension and a time lag.
It always has a purpose. Keeping this in view, there may just be a decision not to decide.
It involves multiple actions like defining the problem and probing and analyzing the various alternatives before a final choice is made.

The decision-making process comprises the following components;
The decision-maker
The decision problem
The environment in which the decision is to be made
The objectives of the decision maker
The alternative courses of action
The outcome expected from various alternatives
The final choice of the alternative

Decision making styles;

There are four styles of decision-making based on who makes the decision:

Individual decision-making;
In individual decision-making, the leader must make the decision alone, and input from others is limited to collecting relevant information.
Decision-making through consultation;
In consultation, the leader discusses the issue with one or more people-seeking ideas, opinions, and suggestions-and then makes a decision. The leader considers the input of others, but the final decision may or may not be influenced by it.
Group decision-making
In this case, the leader and others work together until they reach a consensus decision. Each group member’s opinion and point of view is considered. As a result of participating in the decision making, group members buy into the final decision and commit to supporting its implementation.
Delegating the decision
When delegating a decision, the leader sets the parameters, and then allows one or more colleagues to make the final decision. Although the leader does not make the decision, he or she supports it.

Problem solving;

There are many different decision-making / problem-solving models that you can use. The five-step model shown below has proven effe d tive in emergency situations.
It is not necessary to document each step, but it is important to think through every step

Identify the problem;
Problem identification is undoubtedly the most important and the most difficult step in the process. All subsequent steps will be based on how you define and assess the problem at hand. A problem is a situation or condition of people or the organization
that exist but members of the institution consider that undesirable

Delineating the problem parameters;
Identifying the problem also involves analysing the situation to determine the extent of the problem. Problem parameters include:
What is happening (and is not happening)?
Who is involved?
What the stakes are?