Strategic Decision Making & Critical Reasoning

TBD ($2500)
Instructor: Vikas Mittal, Ph.D. (Rice University)

Are you a good decision maker? A recent 2008 study of global firms by McKinsey concluded: “Individual and group psychology can cause irrational decision making by both individuals and organizations, resulting in less than ideal outcomes. Even the best-designed strategic planning processes don’t always lead to optimal decisions.” Improved technical mastery of a discipline (e.g., finance, engineering, geology, etc.) does not improve your competence in strategic decision making. However, career success is intricately linked to competence in strategic decision making.

“Strategic Decision Making & Critical Reasoning” is a leadership program designed to enhance your ability to understand your decision-making process and enhance your strategic decision-making skills in your personal and professional life. 

Course objectives:

  • Enhance your capability to frame, structure, and analyze decision opportunities from a strategic point of view
  • Sensitize you to the business and behavioral aspects of the decision process
    • Confirmation bias, loss aversion, emotional intelligence, availability heuristic, sunk-cost, etc.
  • Help you to examine and address the different issues in influencing and motivating people for successful decision implementation
  • Group think, common information bias, functional bias, listening impairment
  • Develop your decision skills through in-depth coaching of a decision in which you are currently involved
  • NOTE: This course is not a tutorial in decision tools or techniques.

Course Methods:

This interactive leadership-learning program does not use “lecture and listen” format. We use:

  • Interactive discussions and analysis of personal and professional decisions (successful and unsuccessful) made by you and others. Examples include:
    • President Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs decision
    • NASA’s Challenger launch
    • Family decision for a vacation
    • Launching a new product
    • Solyndra’s decision to take the US government loan
    • Your job/career decisions
  • In-group exercises, cases, and role plays designed to assess and improve your:
    • Listening skills
    • Emotional intelligence quotient
    • Risk-taking sensitivity (differential sensitivity to losses or gains)
    • Ability to create an open environment in a team/group that minimizes emotional conflict even while encouraging task-related disagreements
    • Skills in accepting and voicing disagreement by minimizing confirmation bias

Participant Profile:


The course is suitable for people who have a minimum of 2 years experience in supervisory or leadership capacity such as

  • Managing and supervising people
  • Working in or leading a cross-functional team
  • Being a group or project leader
  • Participation in a cross-functional team/project