governmentPeople are often surprised at the decisions local government officials and business leaders make. It’s common to hear individuals say “What the heck were they thinking” when they made that decision? Since I enjoyed fantastic careers in both local government and business I observed the decision making processes of governmental bodies and senior business teams and know they both rely on a thorough rigorous five step process when making major decision.

Though I never worked in a state government or at the “DC” level; I am inclined to believe they follow a similar process. To illustrate my point this article will focus on a five step decision making example that is common in most local governments … the purchase of a new law enforcement vehicle.

  1. Logical Comparisons. Public officials would generally start by comparing every vehicle on the market which may include – two-seaters, convertibles, two-door coupes, four-door sedans, station wagons, minivans and 4-wheel SUV’s etc. Most government officials would quickly agree that pick-up trucks and minivans are not a logical choice for law enforcement do to their high centers of gravity and poor performances in high speed pursuits.

Most elected bodies would also eliminate two-seaters, convertibles, two-door coupes and station wagons as their body designs are not conducive for transporting unruly individuals and crime scene evidence; thus the logical choices would be four-door sedans and SUV’s.

  1. Economic Considerations. After a logical comparison, decision makers would proceed to cost considerations. A 4-door sedan might cost $20,000 and a SUV may cost $25,000; however, factors such as gas mileage, average annual maintenance costs and projected resale value would be weighed. In addition, northern communities confronted by frequent winter storms might consider a vehicle’s capability to respond to an emergency during inclement weather. Therefore the SUV might be the cost effective choice.
  2. The Political Orientation. Though narrowed down to a SUV the decision makers would now consider the political impact of their decision. Chevrolet, Ford, Buick, Cadillac, etc., plus a host of foreign automakers such as Honda, Nissan, and Hunyadi etc., all produce top quality SUV’s; however what would be the perception if they spent American tax dollars on foreign made products? Some may argue sending tax dollars overseas is wrong? Thus the decision makers might insist all vehicles be purchased from “American Automobile manufactures”.
  3. Emotional Dynamics. Every individual brings their own set of values and personal biases to every decision they make. The experiences and lessons they learned in life impact how they vote. With a body design and source of manufacturer determine they must now decide which “brand” to purchase: Chrysler, General Motors, or a Ford Motor Company product?

If a decision maker has had a bad experience with one of these brands (let’s say Chrysler), that experience is emblazoned in his/her memory. They will argue against the purchase of any Chrysler product; therefore, the elected body would be left to choose between GM and Ford.

  1. EM3. Having advanced through the initial four steps of their decision-making process: “Logical Comparisons, Economic Considerations, Political Orientation and Emotional Dynamics” the decision makers would now move to their final step. Both seasoned public officials and corporate directors know {from past experiences} that regardless of what brand they choose many people will be unhappy. They could continue to deliberate to seek the perfect choice to ‘ad nausea’; however most decision maker at this point defer to a time honored practice; a course of action which to allow them to make a unbiased, non political decision – the EM3 step. The EM3 method has historically proven to render acceptable solutions to many perplexing problems. The EM3 step typically involves two decision makers to volunteer to harmoniously chant “enee menee minee mo.” Whichever choice receives the coveted “Mo” is the product a decision making body decides on.

That, my friends, is how the vast majority of decisions are made in both the public and private sectors across the country. If you agree let me know? If you disagree I’d sure like to know why so reach out to me!

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