Decision Making

Decision Making

By the end of this lesson, you are expected to:
– discover a decision-making process for group work;
– discover facilitation tools to support your decision-making process;
– be able to adapt this process to specific situations.
Yes, it’s great to have choice, and we’ve never had more choice than we do now. But sometimes it can be overwhelming. Even the weekly shop now comes with a multitude of choices…

“Do I want to buy free-range? Organic? Gluten-free? Shall I splash out on a premium product or stick to value? Maybe I should start that diet that I’m always putting off and go for healthy options.”

People could spend ages pondering the benefits of wheat bread over brown…

Tough Decisions

Usually, we do not worry so much about getting our decision wrong when it comes to shopping for food. However, when we need to make an important decision, it’s different…

But tough decisions typically involve issues like these:
Uncertainty – Many facts may not be known.
Complexity – You have to consider many interrelated factors.
High-risk consequences – The impact of the decision may be significant.
Alternatives – Each has its own set of uncertainties and consequences.
Interpersonal issues – It can be difficult to predict how other people will react.

With these difficulties in mind, the best way to make a complex decision is to use an effective process. The problem solving and decision making process is a very well structured activity that through specific steps gives us the opportunity to reach the root of the problem and solve it in a tidy and efficient way.

Good decision making is an essential skill for career success generally, and effective leadership particularly. If you can learn to make timely and well-considered decisions, then you can often lead your team to spectacular and well-deserved success.

However, if you make poor decisions, your team risks failure and your time as a leader will, most likely, be brutally short.

A systematic approach to decision making

A logical and systematic decision-making process helps you address the critical elements that result in a good decision. By taking an organized approach, you’re less likely to miss important factors, and you can build on the approach to make your decisions better and better.

Effective decision making
6 Steps to Making an Effective Decision

When we have to make a decision, we should have the different steps we have to go through clear in mind in order to analyze everything about it. Actually, there are a few different schools of thought regarding these steps.

Here you can find the six principle steps that can be followed in order to proceed through the decision making process in an effective way:

1) Create a constructive environment
2) Generate good alternatives
3) Explore these alternatives
4) Choose the best alternative
5) Check your decision
6) Communicate your decision, and take action

This process has been extracted from the book: Decision making and problem solving strategiesby John Adair.
Step 1: Create a constructive environment

Making a decision can be a very delicate activity and for that reason, the context should be as suitable as possible. Here, we will go through a brief list of activities we should observe in order to create a constructive environment for a successful decision-making process:*

One can create an environment step by step rather than implementing everything at once, which can be overwhelming.
Establish the objective

Each one of us might see the problem from his/her own point of view so often the same situation could be seen in very different ways. That’s why one has to define what is the problem and what s/he and/or we want to achieve are both very fundamental steps in the decision making process.

Agree on the process

Know how the final decision will be made, including whether it will be an individual or a team-based decision.

Involve the right people

In a decision-making process, it’s very important to involve the right people, i.e. all the people who are directly implicated in that issue and can allocate the accurate resources. It’s important to have people with different prospectives in order to analyse all the pros and cons of our decision. We should also pay attention to the number of participants which should neither be too many nor too few.

Allow opinions to be heard

It’s very important to create a good atmosphere where all the participants feel comfortable to contribute to the discussions, debates, and analysis without any fear of rejection from the group. Also, recognize that the objective is to make the best decision under the circumstances – it’s not a game in which people are competing to have their own preferred alternatives adopted.

Make sure you’re asking the right question

Ask yourself whether this is really the true issue.

Use creativity tools from the start

The basis of creativity is thinking from a different perspective. Do this when you first set out the problem, and then continue with it while generating alternatives.

Step 2: Generate Good Alternatives

This step is still critical to making an effective decision. To make a decision, it’s necessary to have the opportunity to choose from different alternatives – this is the basis of a decision-making process. The more good options you consider, the more comprehensive your final decision will be. Now, you’re faced with some tricky questions:
– How to generate the best alternatives?
– How to stimulate the person/group to come up with good ideas?


Brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. It encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that can, at first, seem a bit crazy. Some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to a problem, while others can spark even more ideas. This helps to get people unstuck by “jolting” them out of their normal ways of thinking.

[Optional] Watch a 2-minute intro below. To read the full article:

Brainwriting is an alternative method to brainstorming that tries to encourage a more uniform participation within a group. Like brainstorming, it is designed to generate lots and lots of ideas in a short amount of time.

[Optional] Watch this 3-minute video below to (re)discover the concept.
Link to the video:

To learn more, follow the link:

Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. The term was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono.

Watch the 2-minute video below to discover the concept.

Link to the video:

Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping is a useful technique that helps you learn more effectively, improves the way that you record information, and supports and enhances creative problem solving.

To learn more about mindmaps, follow this link:
Step 3: Explore the Alternatives

Now that we’ve come up with realistic alternatives, it’s time to analyse them. We will need to evaluate the feasibility, risks, and implications of each choice. Here, we discuss some of the main elements to consider: riskimplicationvalidation.

– Risk: Every decision we will take will imply a certain degree of risk. That’s why we want to analyse it as deeply as possible in order to choose the alternative with the least degree of risk. By evaluating the risk involved with various options, you can determine whether the risk is affordable.

– Implications: Another way to look at your options is by considering the potential consequences of each. As we said before, each decision taken will have a certain degree of risk and will imply a consequence that will be positive for someone and negative for another. The point here is to ensure that there’s a balance and to see which option will be the right one.

– Validation: Lastly, we will determine if our resources are adequate, if the solution matches your objectives and if the decision is likely to work in the long term. In this step, we will have to be as objective as possible in order to be able to see if our alternative will actually work till the end.

Step 4: Choose the Best Alternative

After you have evaluated the alternatives, the next step is to choose between them. The choice may be obvious. However, if it isn’t, there are various tools available. Below, we’ve described a useful tool that could be used called Grid Analysis.

Grid Analysis (1/3)
Making a Choice Where Many Factors Must be Balanced

This technique also known as a decision matrix, is a key tool for this type of evaluation. It’s invaluable because it helps you bring disparate factors into your decision-making process in a reliable and rigorous way.

It is particularly powerful where you have a number of good alternatives to choose from, and many different factors to take into account. This makes it a great technique to use in almost any important decision where there isn’t a clear and obvious preferred option.

Being able to use Grid Analysis means that you can take decisions confidently and rationally, at a time when other people might be struggling to make a decision.

Grid Analysis (2/3)

This tool is most effective when you have a number of good alternatives and many factors to take into account.

1) The first step is to list your options and then the factors that are important for making the decision. Create a table (you could use Excel), with options as the row labels, and factors as the column headings.

2) Next, work out the relative importance of the factors in your decision. Show these as numbers. We will use these to weight your preferences by the importance of the factor.

3) The next step is to work your way across your table, scoring each option for each of the important factors in your decision. Score each option from 0 (poor) to 3 (very good). Note that you do not need to have a different score for each option – if none of them are good for a particular factor in your decision, then all options would score 0.

4) Now, multiply each of your scores by the values for your relative importance. This will give them the correct overall weight in your decision.

5) Finally, add up these weighted scores for your options. The option that scores the highest wins!

Grid Analysis (3/3)

Key Points
– Grid Analysis helps you to decide between several options, while taking many different factors into account.

– To use the tool, lay out your options as rows on a table. Set up the columns to show your factors. Allocate weights to show the importance of each of these factors.

– Score each choice for each factor using numbers from 0 (poor) to 3 (very good).

– Multiply each score by the weight of the factor, to show its contribution to the overall selection.

– Finally add up the total scores for each option. Select the highest scoring option.

Table of Action

This is a tool to understand all the pros and cons that your decision will imply to you and to the people you are working with. It is a practical tool and it is applicable for any kind of decision made.

How to use the tool:
In the left column, write all the components involved in your decision, risks, consequences and resources; on the top there will be a row divided into two columns – the benefit of taking the action and the benefit of not taking the action. Once you have filled it, you will be able to judge your own decision and decide whether to take it or not.

Larger version of the picture:
Step 6: Communicate your decision and move to action

This could be considered the easiest step. The decision is made and now you have to keep in mind what we said before – one decision will satisfy someone in your team but will disappoint someone else. Choose the right speaker and the best words to announce it to your team and be focused till the end of your project because people will trust you as long as you reach the goal.

How do you know which decision-making approach to use?

If you want to make a decision that benefits from multiple perspectives and results in strong commitment to implementation, you should move beyond directive decision-making to one of the more inclusive options. However, if you have already made up your mind and, upon reflection, are really not open to changing your mind, it’s best to be honest and make a directive decision, making the reasoning behind your decision clear and answering any clarifying questions.

Given the rapid pace of change and the increased need to consider the views and priorities of key stakeholders, organizations with the most effective decision-making cultures are more balanced; placing primary emphasis on consultative and consensus decision-making. A leader should not focus only on the substance of the decision, but also the process by which it is made.

To be explicit about decision-making requires a very small amount of time and the ROI is quite high. It almost invariably results in greater trust in the decision-making process and increased commitment to the decisions made.

Jim Rohn Sứ mệnh khởi nghiệp