How to decide among a lot of options? … You can improve your decision making by adding criteria and weight. This helps you prioritize effectively. The key is making the criteria explicit.
This is effective for personal decision making, and it’s especially effective for group decision making. It works well for personal decision making because it forces you to get clarity on your own criteria. It works well for group decision making because you create a shared set of criteria. When people know what’s valued, it’s easier to understand and weigh in on the decisions.
It’s also a good way to find out mismatches on expectations. For example, if one person thinks the color of the room is the most important, but another thinks the size of the room is more important, you can have a conversation around the usage scenarios and trade-offs and share perspectives. The other beauty of using criteria and weight is that it helps make the issue less subjective, so you can have a less defensive, and more objective evaluation of the options.
To make this easier to follow, I walk through an example to illustrate the approach.
Summary of Steps
If you need to make an important decision, the following steps can help:
- Step 1. Identify the criteria
- Step 2. Rate the criteria.
- Step 3. Rate your options against the criteria and multiply by the weightings
Step 1. Identify the Criteria
In this step, identify the key factors that matter. For example, when I was giving input on hiring our new leader, I identified the following criteria:
- Microsoft Experience
- patterns & practices Experience
- Attract the right talent
- Engineering Competence
- Business Competence
- Political Competence
I knew ultimately it was not a linear decision, and that it’s about satisfying the various skills for the job (the business perspective, the technical perspective, the political perspective, the customer perspective … etc), but I thought that if I shared the frame for how I was thinking of the new leader, it might help make a better decision, avoid simple pitfalls and create a more objective frame for discussion, dialogue, or debate.
Step 2. Rate the Criteria
The next step is to identify the weighting of each criteria. This is where you start to get clarity on what really matters. I find that that sticking to a scale of 1-3 helps keep it simple. In this case, 1 is less important and 3 is more important, since we will multiply by these numbers in the next step.
|patterns & practices Experience||3|
|Attract the right talent||3|
Step 3. Rate Your Options Against the Criteria and Multiply by the Weightings
In this step, you rate your options against the criteria, and then multiply by the weightings:
|Criteria||Candidate A||Candidate B||Candidate C|
|patterns & practices Experience||10||0||0|
|Attract the right talent||8||5||5|
When you score against your criteria, you can have an objective discussion around the criteria. This helps especially when everybody may be on different pages. For example, in my experience, political competence varies by situation.
The 5 rating for political competence I gave across the board is actually interesting. It’s far easier to get a 1 for political competence than anything past a 5 given the mix of “task-focus” and “people-focus” among our melting pot of disciplines, cultures, engineering focus, product mentality, and company maturity level. Really, political competence is a matter of situation and networks — where some networks are better than others. The good news is that most political competence challenges can be addressed with grooming and tuning (I see it every day.) Other people certainly have different views and experience on political competence, so this was a good backdrop for the conversation.
Multiply by the Weightings
Here is the result of multiplying the candidate scores against the weightings.
|Criteria||Rating||Candidate A||Candidate B||Candidate C|
|patterns & practices Experience||3||30||0||0|
|Attract the right talent||3||24||15||15|
For example, Candidate A is gets an 18 in Microsoft Experience (9 x 2, where 9 is the candidate’s score and 2 is the weighting of the criteria). As you can see, the numbers helped highlight some key differences between the candidates. It’s not so much that you can your decisions into numbers, since it’s rarely that black and white, instead, it’s really that you expose your thinking, get clarity on your values, and have more meaningful dialogues.
My Related Posts
- What is the Relevant Decision Making Criteria?
- Consult-and-Decide and Build-Consensus for Making Decisions
- 5 Elements of an Effective Decision Making Process
- 4 Decision Making Methods
- Boundary Conditions for Effective Decisions
Photo by purplbutrfly.