The Right Questions

The Top Seven Decision Making Tools

The Best Wisdom, Tools and Processes for Decision Making

Decision making is a fact of life, we have a constant barrage of information we need to analyse and choices we have to make. Here are some simple tools to help you.

The SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis is a simple yet effective way of doing a situational analysis and exploring the internal and external influences that are affecting an individual or organisation. SWOT stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Strengths and weaknesses are the internal factors; opportunities and threats the external ones. The idea of the SWOT analysis is to keep things simple and concise. All that needs to be done is to record the key considerations under each heading to highlight the critical information that needs to be acted upon. The SWOT analysis is based upon a study done at Stanford University.

The Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix (named after US President Dwight D. Eisenhower) is another simple yet powerful tool but in this case it is used for time management. The process is based upon identifying whether something is either important or not important, urgent or not urgent. The matrix is then made up of four boxes:

  • Important, but not urgent – things that you decide when you will do them
  • Urgent and important – things that should be done immediately
  • Not important, not urgent – things that can be done at a later date
  • Urgent but not important – things that can be delegated to someone else

Items on a to-do list are categorised into the four boxes in order to help prioritise them.

The Conflict Resolution Model

Psychologists have identified that our responses to conflict situations can be categorised in six different ways. Understanding these reactions and being able to identify them in can help to resolve or de-escalate a situation. By looking for the best way to respond good communication and relationships can be restored. The six responses are:

  • Fight. The aggressive response is to try and defeat the cause of the conflict but this has a downside in business and relationships as someone has to become the loser (lose-lose)
  • Flight. Running away is just avoidance; it does not solve the issue so it will still be there at a later date (win-lose)
  • Give up. This is the opposite of the fight response but the result is the same; there is a loser, and therefore this should be avoided (lose-win)
  • Evade responsibility. If someone cannot handle the situation they might give the responsibility to someone else. Bringing in another party generally reduces the chances of a favourable solution. (lose-lose)
  • Compromise. This is when negotiation leads to a solution but one where both parties lose some ground, therefore the conflict is resolved but at a cost to both sides (win-lose/win-lose).
  • Reach a consensus. This is where the conflict is turned into an opportunity where both parties can benefit; therefore it is more productive than a compromise and the best overall result (win-win).

The Making-of Model

This model was developed by The Grove consulting agency and looks at how someone’s past has an influence on their future. It is done by looking back at a specific period of time; be that a project, business venture or important period of life and then analysing it. For each time period the considerations are:

  • The people involved
  • The goals that were set
  • The challenges that were overcome
  • The successes
  • What lessons were learned

This tool can be particularly helpful when crafting a CV.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Developed by the psychologist Abraham Maslow, the hierarchy categorises human needs as:

  • Physiological needs (such as eating, sleeping, sex)
  • Security (shelter, work, health, physical security)
  • Social relationships (friends, community, love, a partner)
  • Recognition (money, status, power)
  • Self-actualisation (faith, self-belief, fulfilling potential, spirituality)

The first three are the basic needs and form the bottom three tiers of the triangle. If these needs are supplied a person no longer considers them. The last two (that form the top two levels of the pyramid) can never really be satisfied and are therefore areas of continual growth.

The Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule)

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, identified that 80% of success and good results come from just 20% of the input. In other words 20% of a company’s customers will be responsible for 80% of its revenue. 80% of a person’s results is down to 20% of their time. The key is identifying the productive 20% in any given situation and focussing on that.

The Belbin Team Model

Meredith Belbin conducted a series of studies and identified nine profiles that were needed in any successful team. They all have particular strengths and weaknesses, which is why all the roles are needed to provide balance. In summary the roles are:

  • Plant – an ideas generator, good at thinking but can find it hard to focus on one thing
  • Co-ordinator – a decision maker and delegator who takes responsibility but can appear manipulative
  • Shaper – a ‘can-do’ person who overcomes challenges but can be impatient
  • Resource Investigator – someone who looks at possibilities and contacts external to the team; can be over-optimistic
  • Implementer – action orientated, this person is reliable but can be inflexible
  • Monitor Evaluator – analytical and level headed but can be overly critical
  • Team worker – fosters communication and good relationships internally but can be indecisive
  • Completer Finisher – has very high standards, conscientious but can be too much of a perfectionist
  • Specialist – provide specialist insight and skills but can be too narrow in their thinking

 

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