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A Simple Tool for Making Decisions

This edition of Tools You Can Use NOW will help you take the guesswork out of decision-making: using a decision-making matrix.

When teams are making tough decisions, they often express a lack of confidence. They may not say it in those words. What they usually say sounds more like this:

  • How will we choose?
  • How will we know which is the best decision?
  • What if we’re wrong?

That lack of confidence often leads to decisions being made by default – whatever the person with the loudest voice or with positional authority wants. Or someone suggests an idea, and the group gets so far down the rabbit hole discussing that one idea that it de facto becomes the choice. Bottom line, none of these scenarios leads to sound decisions made with confidence.

That is where a matrix can be helpful. A matrix takes the guesswork out of decision-making, providing a simple framework that ensures that all important factors are being considered.

The first step will be to identify what you want to base your decision on. What is important to consider as you make this decision? This first step is so important, as it brings to light many of the factors that lurk quietly unspoken in the back of our minds.

  • How long will it take to produce results?
  • Will it align with (or fight with) other work we’re already doing?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How much people power will it require?
  • How excited are people about it?
  • Whatever else is important to you…

Seeing those decision-making criteria in black-and-white helps make all those invisible issues visible. By bringing those issues into the light, everyone can determine together HOW the decision will be made.

From there, the matrix allows you to rank each option against the criteria you’ve identified. "Will Project A require a lot or a little staff time? How about Projects B and C?"

The end result will be a detailed picture of what is important as you make your decision. And with that context comes the confidence that you have made the wisest choice possible.

You can see more of what this looks like in practice in this short video.

As you review the video, think about the various places in your life you can apply this practice. Try it for the next decision you need to make. And as always, please let us know what you notice as you do!

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Teach people how to change the systems they find themselves in,
to create a future different from our past -
all by changing the questions they ask.

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