Rational Decision Making: Recognize the Problem.

The starting point in rational decision making is recognizing that a problem exists.

Some years ago, for example, it was discovered that several species of ocean fish contained substantial concentrations of mercury.The decision-making process began with this recognition of a problem, and the rush was on to determine what should be done.

Research revealedthat fishtakenfromthe ocean decadesbefore andpreservedin laboratories also contained similar concentrations of mercury.Thus, the problem had existed for a long time but had not been recognized.

In typical situations, recognition is obvious and immediate.An auto accident, an over-drawn check, a burned-out motor, an exhausted supply of parts all produce the recognition of a problem.Once we are aware of the problem,we can solve it as best we can.Many firms establish programs for total quality management (TQM) or continuous improvement (CI) that are designed to identify problems, so that they can be solved.

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