A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion. Chinese Adage
This decision making model in five steps is a general but very effective pattern for making decisions and solving problems. Other methods found under Decision Making Models are specifically for evaluating the alternatives. These five steps fits all the parts of making a decision together. If the five steps are followed exactly, you are almost guaranteed a good decision.
The important thing with any model, is that it will give you a structured discipline. This discipline will help prevent you from getting sidetracked on some unimportant part of the steps leading to a decision. Your goal is a good decision, nothing else.
1. State The Problem - The first and arguably the most important step in the decision making model in five steps is to identifying the problem. Until you have a clear understanding of the problem or decision to be made, it is meaningless to proceed. If the problem is stated incorrectly or unclearly then your decisions will be wrong.
2. Identify Alternatives - Sometimes your only alternatives are to do it or don't do it. Most of the time you will have several feasible alternatives. It is worth doing research to ensure you have as many good alternatives as possible.
3. Evaluate The Alternatives - This is where the analysis begins. You must have some logical approach to rank the alternatives. Two such logical approaches are discussed at Example Of A Decision Matrix and at Sample SWOT Analysis. It is important to realize that these analysis methods are only one of the five steps in the decision making model.
4. Make A Decision - You have evaluated your alternatives. Two or more of your high ranked alternatives may be very close in the evaluations. You should eliminate all of the alternatives that were low ranked. Now it is time to go back and examine the inputs you made to evaluation criteria for the close high ranked alternatives. Do you still feel comfortable with the inputs you made? When you have made any changes it is time for some subjection. You have eliminated the alternatives that do not make logical sense. Now it is time to let your subconscious work. Review all the details of the remaining high ranked close alternatives, so they are completely clear in your mind. Completely leave the project alone for a few days. When you return to the project, the decision will likely be very clear in your head. This only works if you have done your homework!
5. Implement Your Decision - A decision has no value unless you implement it. If you are not good with implementation, then find someone that is. Part of the implementation phase is the follow up. The follow up ensures that the implementation sticks.
This decision making model in five steps shows a logical structured methodology for making a decision. The discipline that it provides will guide you to the goal of good decision making.