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An effective approach to decision making

24th October 2017

When trying to make a good decision, a person must weigh the positives and negatives of each option, and consider all the alternatives. For effective decision making, a person must be able to forecast the outcome of each option, and based on all of these items, determine which option is the best for that particular situation.

Decision-making is something we all need to learn how to do. Learning how to make good choices and wise decisions depends upon several factors: a person’s developmental stage/age, having a general idea of right and wrong, understanding what the decision-making process entails, and practice!

Effective and good decision making can be done when the cause and the consequences of the problem is analysed effectively. The factors that can influence this are:

  • Perception
  • Goals
  • Priority
  • Values
  • Judgment
  • Acceptability
  • Demands
  • Risk
  • Resources
  • Style

‘You cannot make progress without making decisions’ – Jim Rohn

There are 6 steps to making an effective decision.

  1. Create a Constructive Environment

The first step is for everyone to understand the issue before preparing to make a decision. This includes agreeing on an objective, making sure the right issue is being discussed and agreeing on a process to move the decision forward.


You must also address key interpersonal considerations at the very beginning. Have you included all of the stakeholders? And do the people involved in the decision agree to respect one another and engage in an open and honest discussion? After all, if only the strongest opinions are heard, you risk not considering some of the best solutions available.


  1. Generate Good Alternatives

The second step is about generating as many good alternatives as sensibly possible to consider. If you simply adopt the first solution you encounter, then you’re probably missing a great many, even better alternatives.


  1. Explore These Alternatives

The third step of exploring alternatives is often the most time-consuming part of the decision-making process. This stage sometimes takes so long that a decision is never made!  To make this step efficient, be clear about the factors you want to include in your analysis.

There are three key factors to consider:

  1. Risk: Most decisions involve some risk. However, you need to uncover and understand the risks to make the best choice available.
  2. Consequences: You can’t predict the implications of a decision with 100% accuracy, but you can be careful and systematic in the way that you identify and evaluate possible consequences.
  3. Feasibility: Is the choice realistic and implementable? Is this option that you’ve selected significantly better than the status quo?


  1. Choose the Best Alternative/Deciding

Making the decision itself can be both exciting and stressful. To help you deal with these emotions as objectively as possible, use a structured approach to the decision. Take the time to think ahead and determine exactly what will make the decision “right.”


  1. Check your Decision

Remember that some things about a decision are not objective. The decision has to make sense on an intuitive level as well.  Does the decision make sense?


If the decision is a significant one, it is also worth auditing it to make sure that your assumptions are correct and that the logical structure you’ve used to make the decision is sound.


  1. Communicate Your Decision and Take Action

For most decisions, particularly those needing other people’s buy-in before implementation, it is important to gather support by explaining why you chose the alternative you did.  The more information you provide about risks and projected benefits, the more likely people are to support your decision!


‘When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.’ – Paul Coelho, The Alchemist