Decision Step Models

Posted on May 15 2009

Decision Step Models are simple step-by-step approach models than can be followed in sequence. There are many variations to the basic Rational Decision Model or traditional Eight Step Decision Model. Each variation of these models either combine multiple steps, or lists them more generically. Some of these models include feedback and implementation steps.

Decision Step Models – 5 Step

The objective with these decision step models is to separate the issues, examine the data and reach a decision.

To make the best decisions and to become efficient, you can follow this simple five-step plan.

1. Identify and clarify the problem or decision to be made. Set your goal.

The first step in reaching a decision is pinpointing the decision context area area.

2. Gather information.

Learn more about the situation. Look for possible causes and solutions. This step may mean collecting files, calling stakeholders, or group brainstorm.

3. Evaluate the information.

Where did the information come from? Does it represent various points of view? What biases could be expected from each source? How accurate is the information gathered? Is it fact or opinion?

4. Consider alternatives and implications.

Draw conclusions from the gathered information and pose solutions. Then, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. What are the costs, benefits, and implications? What are the obstacles, and how can they be handled? Most important, what solution best serves your goals and those of your organization? Be creative.

5. Choose and implement the best alternative.

Select an alternative and put it into action. Then, follow through on your decision by monitoring the results of implementing your plan. Once in action, continue observing and adjusting the solution to ensure its effectiveness. This is the most common of all decision step models, but not necessarily the most comprehensive.

Decision Step Models – Six Steps

This are decision step models with an additional step, yet it is not much different than the previously model we looked at. The model is descriptive of how people intuitively make decisions and the steps are explicit.

The six steps of this natural, intuitive decision-making process are: 1. Define the problem 2. Identify available alternative solutions to the problem 3. Evaluate the identified alternatives 4. Make the decision 5. Implement the decision 6. Evaluate the decision

Now this step decision model differs than the first in that step two jumps into alternative lists, but steps 1 and 3 match. Step 4 jumps into the decision, Step 5 matches, and Step 6 is explicit. This model doesn’t give justice to reviewing and setting context and information around the problem, but it does split out the evaluation. In a nutshell, it’s not really any different than the Five Step Decision Model

Decision Step Models – Seven Steps

Here we have a model with an additional step. These decision step models are ones used for a personal rather than a business solution, although it may apply in business. It adds the element of personal knowledge or flavour.

The more information you have the easier it is to make a decision. Often times an inability to choose one decision over another is an indication that you do not have sufficient information. The trick is to figure out what information you are lacking and then gather and analyze that information.

1. Identify the decision to be made

It is important that you have a clear understanding of what it is you are trying to decide.

2. Know Yourself (Self-Assessment)

Before you begin alternatives and trying to identify solutions which will prove satisfying, you must first develop a true understanding of you–your skills, interests, values, and personality characteristics.

3. Begin Identifying Options

Start identifying the options. You may do a personal brainstorm and later toss out the ones which are not viable.

4. Gather information and data

Examine the information and resources you already have, and identify what is missing. Gather and use new information.

5. Evaluate viable options

Identify pros and cons of each alternative, identify the values and criteria satisifed by each. Identify risks involved with each alternative. Project future consequences of each choice.

6. Select one of the alternatives.

Based on data and evaluation, you should be able to select an alternative. If you cannot, return to step 4.

7. Set up an action plan to implement the alternative.

What is required to complete each step? What are the obstacles to completing?

We have outlined three Decision Step Models here. Our approach and model is more comprehensive and integrates decision making tools, actual analysis processing steps and feedback loops along the way.

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