7 Characteristics in Arbitrary and Calculated Decision-Making

As a leader, or even as a team member, we constantly have to make decisions. Great leaders understand the power of decision-making and learn to use this power wisely.

In simple terms, leaders should consider two methods of decision-making. Some decisions can be arbitrary decisions and others need to be calculated decisions. Knowing which type of decision making to use at a given time will help you be a better leader.

I know leaders who make very quick, instant decisions only to grow to regret them. (This leader being one.)

Here are 7 characteristics of each type decision-making process: (Behind each word is a definition of that word compliments of dictionary.com)

Arbitrary – based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system

  • Few people affected
  • Limited life to the decision
  • Low cost or impact expected
  • When the decision-maker is the implementer
  • Requires less thought
  • Has been made many times
  • Only one person needed to make decision

Calculated – done with full awareness of the likely consequences; carefully planned or intended

  • More people affected
  • Long-term implications
  • Higher cost and impact potential
  • When other people are the implementers
  • Requires more thought
  • Has been made few times, if ever
  • May require the wisdom and counsel of others

Next time you have to make a decision, consider which method you should use for the occasion.

Do you see the difference?

Have you been guilty of making a arbitrary decision when you should have made a calculated decision? Please share an example.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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10 thoughts on “7 Characteristics in Arbitrary and Calculated Decision-Making

  1. I have recently been accused of arbitrarily making unilateral decisions at work. The sad part is, that for the individual accusing me of this, does not realize that it was a calculated decision. The consequences were heavily weighed and measured. The amount of b.s. that is now reigning down was also taken into account. She is now dragging administration into the equation, as well as the remainder of the department. The thing is, the calculated decision was for the greater good and she can't see that. I did what was right because it is what someone else/another department requested be done. This had other implementers, calculated risks and consequences, and long-term implications. However, the scathing email and verbal abuse in front of my students was not calculated. I appreciate your article because it spells out how very wrong she was when she said I made arbitrary decisions time and time again that affect others but she feels I don't take that into account. I did, she just can't see that. Thanks, for your help!

  2. Margaret, I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the pain you must be experiencing. This sounds like something you have a genuine passion for. There have been so many causes by people like you, who after tragedy decided to do something to help others. The whole "Amber Alert" system started that way. There are also associations and groups for people who have lost loved ones to violence. Why not contact some established organization like that and see how they gained momentum for their cause or see if there is some partnership opportuniites? I'll pray with you about this. There has to be other like-minded people on this issue, especially among those who have been hurt so deeply in this way.

  3. What can we do if we are victims of a type of bullying called mobbing and gangstalking? We are abused by police, firemen, city hall, social services, etc for no reason other than for some reason we are targeted. We do nothing wrong yet we are constantly abused and harassed. Is there anyone who can help us? My son committed suicide over this.

  4. Ron! I am able to see the difference.

    I am guilty of making a arbitrary decision when I should have made a calculated decision when I left a job some years back without consulting anyone in my family or friends and paid heavy price for my mistake later. Now, I understand the value of calculated decisions in my life.

    Your post was timely. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Uma