Thursday, August 1, 2013

Quality of Decision-making

The game of life is like the game of poker. You strategize, analyze the odds, match your ability against others in the same arena, make a play and take a chance you made the right decision. It sounds like an oversimplification of a game, but being in a position to lead others requires people to make decisions about themselves, the group and the organization. I had a professor who felt that decision-making and management of issues and scenarios in managing organizations could be compared to the arena of poker (Wiles, 1988).

“Poker theorist David Sklansky once wrote that you should consider yourself a winner as long as you had the higher probability of winning the hand when all the money went into the pot. This attitude is consistent with the underlying mathematical reality of poker, and it can smooth out your emotional reactions to losses and wins. What matters is the quality of your decisions, not the results that come from them.” (Chabris, 2013)

I love that quote: what matters most is the quality of the decisions.

            Think about the number of decisions that are made each day in an educational organization that have an impact on student learning and achievement. You might think that many of those decisions might be insignificant in the bigger scheme of learning, but I would contend that if a school leader is mindful of how that decision will impact one child, greater care and focus might be made to bear in one’s mind. These could be decisions that are seen in class placement, teacher hiring’s and firings, resources, textbooks, technology, health services, cleaning the hallways and the cafeteria, lunch schedules,as well as landscaping and grass cutting on the playground. And, believe it or not, there could be hundreds of others as well.

            A good poker player practices mindfulness activities to prepare his/her decision-making in a game. An excellent school leader practices mindfulness in creating a vibrant and exciting culture that nurtures and supports the education of every child.

            Remember: what matters most is the quality of the decisions.

Wiles, D. (1988). Practical politics for school administrators. New York: Allyn & Bacon.