Exploring the Options
When making a decision it is useful to get all the facts in place so that you can start to generate the options. This is usually a cyclical process working hand in hand with getting the facts and discovering the truth. As you uncover facts, decision options will occur to you and you will then need to uncover more facts to test the option’s feasibility. You will then question the facts to ensure that you are dealing with the truth and move on.
When listing the options you have uncovered consider the following check list:
1. Do all the options satisfy the objective and the list of criteria?
2. Which options are possible given the list of criteria?
3. Which options provide true alternatives?
4. Can we do all / both?
5. Can we combine the best bits of each option?
6. What are the consequences of each option?
7. What are the risks of each option?
8. Do we have or can we get the Time, Resources, Information and Knowledge to complete each option?
Do not try to list every possible option. You might spend weeks or longer in the process and miss the opportunity of making a timeous decision. Just list the most likely options and work with them.
Do not forget the ‘Do Nothing’ option. This is a risky one because the do nothing option is often used by people who cannot make up their minds. In many decisions however the ‘Do Nothing’ is a real choice but it must be put through it’s paces along with the other options.
Depending upon the nature of the decision there is often a benefit in taking a graphical approach to analysing your options. One way of doing this is to create an Option Analyser. This has a row across the top listing your criteria and a column down one side listing your options. It is then a simple task to tick the criteria each option satisfies and view the result before making your final decision.
In the example above option 4 seems to be the best option as it fits most of the criteria.
The above example is okay as for as it goes, however it presumes that each of the criteria has the same value. This is rarely the case and you can improve the accuracy of this analyser by giving each option a weighting out of ten for instance.
[bctt tweet=”Learn how to weigh elements in a decision.” username=”richardmulvey”]
Now we are getting closer to an accurate decision. In the weighted example above, while Option 4 has more x’s, Option 2 may well be a better option to go for as it fits with our most important criteria.
To add to the accuracy there may be criteria that are “must have”. In the above example, Criteria C may be essential, which would knock out Options 3 and 4 entirely.
One word of warning with the option analyser. This is designed to give you an indication of the best option to go for, but it is not cast in stone. Successful decision making has as much to do with the effort you put into making the decision work as it is to do with making the right decision. If you have a feeling that Option 1 would be the best choice even though Option 2 is the best on paper it would probably be best to go for Option 1.
If you choose Option 2 against your “gut feel” you will always be wondering if you made the right decision.
Now you have all the options together you have to make a choice, lets move on to the actual decision.