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Free Decision-Making Tool and Structured Techniques

Taking the right decision can be difficult, especially when many possibilities come into play. This free decision-making tool helps you structure the core requirements and their specific weight to fit into a weighted overview of all possible choices.

While thinking about the right decision man holding his chin facing laptop computer
– If I just had a cool decision-making tool to structure my possibilities!

Structure your decision-making by defining the core requirements for the tool

Before jumping right into listing opportunities or scenarios to fuel the decision-making, one could structure the process by clarifying what is essential, e.g., what are the core requirements?

Let’s say you are looking for a car. Well, you have tons of opportunities, but many of the car models might be way over your budget? But the price itself is not all you have to take into account.

Gorilla thoughtfully thinking
– Hmm, what are seriously the essential aspects of this situation?

What about the fuel consumption, assurance, maintenance, available seats, color, and perhaps the amount of space in the trunk? Does the car have to be brand new, or could you be happy with a used car?

These days you will probably also consider the choice of a pure electrical car or perhaps a hybrid model. Things like mileage and charging possibilities follow as well.

Do you need a fast car, or is safety the most important factor for your decision–or how about a safe and fast car?

You see, many considerations are to be dealt with, and you will probably be able to add even more than the ones I’ve just mentioned?

How important is each requirement?

Before we are ready to do the puzzle, we need to determine how important each factor we put into play is? That’s what I call the weight.

woman holding sword statue during daytime
How much weight do you give to each of your essential requirements?

If you are still here with me, lets put all this into a simple example to get a grasp on this structured decision-making technique:

Buying a new bike – example

Ok, in this case, I’ve decided to buy a new bike; therefore, a used one is not an option.

selective focus photo of bicycle part
Let’s kick pedals in the search of an excellent new bike!

My core requirements could look like these:

  • Prize
  • Carbon vs. aluminum frame
  • Electronic vs. manual gear shift
  • Customizable colors

My next step would be to be crystal clear about the weights I give to each of my requirements. To make it a little more simple, I’ll go with these three straightforward weights:

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High

It may help if you think of the weights as “fixed settings” once you have defined them.

Adding weights to your requirements

Next, we’ll combine each of our requirement with a fixed weight, and that could be something like this:

  • I give the price a high weight since it matters a lot in this case
  • A top model aluminum frame can do the job, so a carbon frame gets a medium weight
  • The difference between electronic gears and a high-end manual gear system might even be noticeable; thus, a low weight may be sufficient
  • Customizable colors don’t mean a lot to me, hence a low weight here too.

Ok, now we’re almost ready to test our setup. But before we can do that, we need to throw in some numbers to support us.

black and red rectangular device
I hope you’re ready to add a few numbers and calculations?

Without numbers and a few calculations, we can’t get a helpful overview of the different scenarios. The latter is the whole idea behind this structured decision-making technique so let’s add some numbers to our simple calculations.

Defining your weights with numbers

Well, you can use whatever you want as numbers for your scores and weights, but the following might be sufficient in most cases:

  • Low = 1
  • Medium = 3
  • High = 5

The higher, the better!

Please notice that I’ve chosen two steps between Low and Medium and Medium and High to add “punch” to the results. This gearing effect makes the differences in our scenarios stand out more apparent, as we’ll see later.

Scoring your options vs. core requirements

When it comes to scoring how well different options fulfill our requirements, we’ll do it step by step.

Let’s say that we have found two exciting bikes that we call Bike1 and Bike2. For each bike, we’ll cycle through one criterion at a time, giving them scores like this:

Prize

  • Very expensive => Low score = 1
  • Fair prize => Medium = 3
  • Good prize => High score = 5

Carbon frame?

  • Yes => High score = 5
  • No => Low score = 1

Electronic gears?

  • Yes => High score = 5
  • No => Low score = 1

Customizable colors?

  • Yes => High score = 5
  • No => Low score = 1

How to do the math in the decision-making tool?

Now we have finally come to the magic part where we need to do a few calculations, so hang on.

black pencil on black background
Please sharpen your pencil and refill the mug with strong black coffee.

For each criterion, we multiply the score by the weight, i.e., the Value equals Weight times the Score. Not that difficult, right?

To help us get an overview, I’ve put it all into this matrix:

Bike1Bike1Bike2Bike2
CriteriaWeightScoreValueScoreValue
Prize531515
Carbon313515
Gear3515515
Color11111
Totals3436
Decision-making matrix with scores and weights | Value = Weight x Score

In this elementary example, we see that bike number two matches our criteria better than the first bike.

Expanding the model to multiple requirements and numerous options

Even though our bike example was not that complicated, imagine how difficult it would be to handle all the parameters, their scores, and totals in your head.

And what happens if we are doubling our criteria and, let’s say, adding another four exciting bike options?

koala sleeping in the tree
It’s enough, please … I can’t take anymore without getting a headache!

That’ll be pretty overwhelming for most of us without writing it all down in some system.

The structured decision-making procedure we’ve gone through in this article is fully applicable for almost any situation and combination of scenarios you can imagine.

Summing up: Free Decision-Making Tool and Structured Techniques

Try getting a habit of breaking your decision-making techniques down to the following steps:

  1. Define your requirements
  2. Define your weights
  3. Combine the weights and requirement
  4. Score each option vs. their requirements

If you’re about to compare five or even more different scenarios–maybe each evaluated for, let’s say, ten core requirements–you’ll quickly melt down your brain without a scalable system and tool to assist you.

To help you save valuable time focusing on your scores of scenarios to compare, I’ve built a scalable decision-making matrix tool that I’ll give away for free to you, if interested?

I’ll be thrilled if you’ll share this article and perhaps leave a comment below.

Also, please remember to fill out the contact form to let me email the tool to you.