Common sense and experience can help you make decisions, but they’re not enough.
An expert can provide options. Only the decision-maker, however, knows all the circumstances, so make sure you have a reliable method for reaching a decision. Seven steps to help you get there:
Step 1: Define your objective. If you need more work space, that doesn’t mean you need to build the Taj Mahal or a platinum-rated green building.
Step 2: Identify your requirements. You’re going to narrow those down in two steps. Here, you divide them into criteria with “yes” or “no” answers. The “no’s” are eliminated. The other criteria have “minimum” prerequisites that can vary. In hiring, for instance, these can include number of years of experience.
Step 3: Choose the most important criteria; they don’t all carry the same weight. You might call the most important criteria “obligatory.” At this stage, you wind up identifying criteria (no more than 12) that are truly significant. The rest are “nice-to-have” rather than “need-to-have.”
Step 4: Determine your available options, or solutions, from the most logical to the most ridiculous. Remember: You’re not deciding at this point, so don’t jump to conclusions and don’t limit your options. “Your best decision,” says strategic planner Errol Wirasinghe, “is only as good as your best option.”
Step 5: Take each possible option or solution and do a standard pro/con list. During this step, double-check to see whether the source of your information is legal and ethical, whether the data is credible, whether the provider has a conflict of interest and whether the information is actually relevant. Seek proof for claims.
Step 6: Go through a second weighting process. Assign each criterion a weight.
Step 7: Rank your options or solutions. With the options written down and their pros and cons listed, use a pair-wise technique to rank them: Taking one criterion at a time, pair it with each solution and assign points. After you’ve exhausted all criteria and possible solutions, multiply the points with the weights to determine rank.
Don’t second-guess your final decision.
— Adapted from “The Right Call,” Errol Wirasinghe, American School Board Journal.
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