The decision-making process is a part of our everyday life. Some decisions are so simple that you’re barely aware you’re making them, while others are time consuming, high risk, and can leave you feeling anxious.
Decision-makers must understand each part of the step-by-step process that goes into making informed decisions. Here are some steps to help you make informed decisions:
Identify the problem
Decisions often fail because key factors are missed or ignored from the outset. So, before you can begin to make a decision, you need to fully understand your situation and correctly identify the problem that must be solved. This might sound simple, but it’s impossible to begin working on a plan of action when you don’t fully comprehend the question you are trying to answer.
Collect data and information
The wider the options you explore, the better your final decision is likely to be. Generating a number of different options may seem to make your decision more complicated at first, but the act of coming up with alternatives forces you to dig deeper and to look at the problem from different angles. Gathering enough information will help you analyze all possible outcomes and make the best decision.
Generate all possible alternatives
Use the information you gathered in the previous step to generate as many solutions as you can, helping to identify the best alternatives. Don’t worry if any of these will ultimately lead to the right decision quite yet; important decisions often require outside-the-box thinking, so feel free to be as creative as possible during this part of the process.
Weigh the alternatives
When you’re satisfied that you have a good selection of realistic alternatives, it’s time to evaluate the risks and implications of each one. When you make tough decisions, there are different approaches you can take when examining your options. Almost every decision involves some degree of risk. Get out a piece of paper and make a list of pros and cons for each one. You’ll also want to examine the ethical impact of each option, and how that might sit with your personal values.
Select your best solution
Once you’ve collected all relevant information and analyzed the alternatives, it’s time to make a hard decision. If you find yourself overwhelmed with indecision or dwelling on the worst-case scenario, you may just have to trust your gut. It is important at this point to “Sense Check” your decision. After all, hindsight is great for identifying why things have gone wrong, but it’s far better to prevent mistakes from happening in the first place!
Making an informed decision requires that you work with both facts (actual data) and emotional information. Combining a range of decision-making tools can help you make highly effective decisions!