Principle-Based Decision Making

Decisions

We make hundreds of decisions per day.  Most are routine and simple such as what clothes do I wear or what to eat for dinner.  A few are more critical such as what car do I buy or what school should my child attend.  These critical decisions require deliberation and a process, particularly if other people are participating in the decision making.

Here is a decision-making process:

  • Clarify the decision to be made by describing/writing the problem or issue.
  • List the alternatives; option development is as important as option analysis.
  • List the decision criteria or principles.
  • Evaluate each decision against the criteria. Set up a simple matrix on paper.
  • Implement and monitor the decision. Did the outcome achieve expectations?

I want to focus on the 3rd bullet point, i.e. listing the criteria or principles.  Using a car purchase as an example, the criteria might be:  initial purchase cost, maintenance costs, gas mileage and safety features.  You would simply list your alternatives and then assess each alternative against these criteria.  Of course, some criteria might carry more weight and be required vs. optional.

This type of decision-making is particularly helpful in large, diverse groups.  Instead of advocating (arguing) for a particular decision, identify and then keep the focus on the key principles that apply.  Let the criteria guide the evaluation to build a consensus.  Choices have consequences so keep the long-term outcomes in mind when evaluating.

 

You can read more about decision making at this link.

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