Decision making has become an essential tool that people use in their everyday lives; From personal decisions as simple as choosing your lunch to high level strategic actions that will maximise your business growth.
While some decisions can be easier made than others, business leaders often have to deal with complex decisions requiring them to choose between many options—while ensuring that their decision meets an optimal set of criteria.
When making a thoughtful decision, one of the most common strategies is to weigh up the pros and cons of available choices. While simply identifying the pros and cons may help businesses compare and contrast two options, it can become an overwhelming approach for multiple options with varying attributes.
This is where the weighted decision matrix can expand on a simple pros and cons model. As a consultancy agency we regularly help clients, from a vast range of industries, make tough decisions by using intelligent reasoning. In order to ensure that the recommended choices have the optimum chance for success, we need to carefully analyse the available options and potential outcomes.
Often difficult decisions can feel too monumental to make, which can slow or freeze business growth—so it's crucial to find a way to drive progress and great decision making.
A weighted decision matrix is a tool used to compare alternatives with respect to multiple criteria of different levels of importance.
To illustrate this, we will be discussing how you can build your own decision-making matrix:
During a decision-making process, businesses must have a list of criteria that they can refer to when assessing the available options to determine how they best meet those requirements.
To illustrate this further, we'll imagine we're looking to hire a new team member. Perhaps we've sourced three excellent candidates and need to determine who might be the best fit for our organisation.
At Mäd, we use test briefs to get a practical example of how a person approaches—and executes—a particular task. We might list our criteria to coincide with their presentation of the brief at the second interview, for example:
- Quality of work.
- Presentation skills.
- Attention to detail / Relevancy to questions.
- Past Experience / Demonstration of knowledge to output.
With the weighted decision matrix, you can establish a weighted scale for each criterion in the order of its importance. Based on the scale, you can then start using the scoring system on each of the alternatives to determine how well they meet each criterion.
Note: Be clear what the score will be out of, i.e. a scale of 10, and also rate the importance of particular aspects/variables.
For example, when making a decision on hiring a new team member we might value their current software knowledge, but not limit their opportunity based on this. After all, a talented person could learn new software quickly, and even the most similar of businesses will likely vary in typical operations. In this scenario we may grade their adaptability or versatility much higher than length of experience with any given tool.
If we were grading the aforementioned criteria, we could weight the quality of work with a x5 multiplier, and the attention to detail with a x3, finally the culture fit may get x2 with the other factors remaining weighted x1. This means, whilst we give consideration to all aspects, we may be hyper focused on the attributes most likely to lead to success on a particular decision.
After you have given scores for all options, you can calculate the weighted score by using the 'Requirement Weight' scores to multiply with the 'Score' column under each consideration.
For example, for option 1, if the weight requirement for 'Usability' (as pictured) or 'Quality of work' (as discussed) is 5 multiplied with the 'Score' of 2, you'd get 10 as the weighted score.
Basically, here you are making sure your key considerations are given additional weight and influence in the decision making process.
Once you have the weighted scores for all the alternatives, you may then calculate the sum to get the total scores.
The total scores will determine the option that best meets your criteria.
Similarly to how our MÄDS100+ (Note and Vote) allows you to assess the alternatives effectively through the majority votes within the team involved in the decision-making, the weighted decision matrix highlights the importance of how each of the options will align with your criteria through the weighted scales.
At Mäd, we don't make decisions that are not feasible for us in the long run. With a weighted decision matrix, we can opt for long-term thinking. The ability to assess and evaluate alternatives to meet our criteria helps us plan better and set higher goals for our team.
However, we're not claiming that mistakes or road bumps are completely avoidable—of course things don't always go to plan. The art of weighted decision making is to minimise risks and improve the likelihood of success. Often, you may have to apply to 'disagree but commit' stance, whereby your preferred direction might not be the most logical option. With this stance, you agree to follow the recommended course of action as progress often can't be made without clear decision making.
Not only do we apply the weighted decision matrix in our internal operations, it is also a tool that we use to help our clients make better decisions for their businesses.
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