Preparing to Make a Judgment Call

If you can't gather all the pertinent information you need to come to a decision, is there a way to prepare to make a judgment call? The answer is yes. You will not end up with all the facts, because they are not always clear, and it is debatable what to include and what to exclude. But arming yourself with information is still an important step toward making such as decision. Let's consider a real-life example as we explore the preparation for a judgment call.

Example

A food pantry is opened in a small town, with a mission to provide free food and household items to people in need. After a few months, the number of people visiting the pantry doubles as word spreads to surrounding communities. Most of the new visitors are from a city ten miles away that has its own food pantry. The committee that runs the small-town pantry discovers that some of these new visitors are actually coming for food which they then turn around and sell to others. Should the pantry ignore this practice, and continue to provide food for all who come to it? Should it limit its visitors to only those who live in their town? Should it close its doors and discontinue its mission?

This is a great example of a real-life judgment call. The first step, although it will not be as complete as with other types of decisions, is to gather information. Decide what kinds of data you need and try at this point to determine what you will base your decision on. In this step, you want to identify all available options.

Example

Do most of the people who visit the food pantry have an actual need? How many people collect food and sell it? Where are they from? If the food pantry closed, where would those in need turn for assistance?

You need to decide on your criteria so you know what types of information to look for. The second step is to seek out other people as both sources of infor mation, and as feedback on your decision making process. Choose people who are not only knowledgeable but who will be able to provide you with objective commentary, including criticism. Discussion with others, whether one-on-one or in a group, can be an invaluable step in the process. Remember that the objective of this step is not to take a poll but to add information. You might discover better or more sources of data, find out about further options, or realize that you did not consider an important aspect of the decision.

The third step is to play "what if?" Explore each option as a solution, asking yourself (and others, if appropriate) how would this option work as a solution? Who would benefit? Who would be hurt, annoyed, or wronged? What is the best-case scenario and what is the worst for your option? Test each possibility and weigh its possible benefits and detriments. How do they measure up to the criteria you established in step one?

Example

Imagine you decided that the most important criteria for making your decision was whether or not those in need would get free food from some other source if the food pantry closed. In step three, you will ask questions such as, "are there other food pantries that are accessible to our town?""Do those pantries limit their visitors to only those who live in their communities?" "Could we provide other assistance to those in our town to help them purchase food, such as gift certificates to grocery stores?"

Friendly Persuasion

Friendly Persuasion

To do this successfully you need to build a clear path of action by using tools if necessary. These tools would be facts, evidence and stories which you know they can relate to. Plus you always want to have their best interests at heart, in other words, you know what is good for them

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