Five Steps to Better Decision-Making

April 24th, 2017

Making good decisions is one of the secrets to success. Application of these five steps allows you to leverage our Management Tools for Success with greater consistency. This systems oriented approach results in better decisions and greater efficiency.

Big decisions should include the following five steps:

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Clarify your objectives.
  3. Develop creative alternatives.
  4. Consider the consequences.
  5. Analyze the trade-offs.

Defining the parameters of a problem is essential. Dig into the issues and make sure that you are focusing on the right things. Be flexible and evaluate all the parameters of the issue and be willing to shift based on changing circumstances.

You need to understand what your decision should accomplish. It is critical to know your objectives, your goals, and needs. This step will help guide your evaluation of information and the possible alternatives. It is helpful to write down your thoughts and concerns to narrow the focus on questions and concerns. Try to tighten your objectives in terms of the end result and be clear on why they are important.

Having creative and imaginative alternatives is the way to avoiding making past mistakes. There is a tendency to repeat what we did in the past. Making minor changes doesn’t work; you need to develop a range of options that can make a difference. Try bouncing the issue off of others and then try and come up with new slants and perspectives. You just might come up with something new and a better solution.

Take time to think through all the consequences of results from possible decisions. Project yourself into the future and try to imagine each of the alternatives and their impact. Go through an analysis of the possibilities and compare the results and understand how they would affect you. Write down the alternatives so you have a clear understanding of the range of possibilities. Greater clarity in your thought process results from writing down and documenting the array of possibilities.

The last step is evaluating the trade-offs resulting from a decision. You will need to consider all the advantages and disadvantages resulting from the alternative decisions. In some cases you will have a clear idea as to a result and in other instances there will be uncertainty. These are the instances where you’ll have to make some judgments and weigh the different possibilities.

A component of decision-making is to understand your appetite for risk. This is a time when you need to think ahead and have contingency plans. Engaging in serious future thought regarding potential outcomes and results is a key component of any decision-making process. Face the reality of what could happen and think carefully about the outcome. Be ready to deal with things that don’t happen as you imagined and understanding how to react accordingly. Be ready to embrace adversity.

In summary, see the reality of possible outcomes and not just the outcome you want to see and be prepared to deal with them.