In general, the decision making process helps managers and other business professionals solve problems by examining alternative choices and deciding on the best route to take. Using a step-by-step approach is an efficient way to make thoughtful, informed decisions that have a positive impact on your organization’s short- and long-term goals.
The business decision making process is commonly divided into seven steps. Managers may utilize many of these steps without realizing it, but gaining a clearer understanding of best practices can improve the effectiveness of your decisions.
Steps of the Decision Making Process
The following are the seven key steps of the decision making process.
- Identify the decision. The first step in making the right decision is recognizing the problem or opportunity and deciding to address it. Determine why this decision will make a difference to your customers or fellow employees.
- Gather information. Next, it’s time to gather information so that you can make a decision based on facts and data. This requires making a value judgment, determining what information is relevant to the decision at hand, along with how you can get it. Ask yourself what you need to know in order to make the right decision, then actively seek out anyone who needs to be involved.
- Identify alternatives. Once you have a clear understanding of the issue, it’s time to identify the various solutions at your disposal. It’s likely that you have many different options when it comes to making your decision, so it is important to come up with a range of options. This helps you determine which course of action is the best way to achieve your objective.
- Weigh the evidence. In this step, you’ll need to “evaluate for feasibility, acceptability and desirability” to know which alternative is best, according to management experts Phil Higson and Anthony Sturgess. Managers need to be able to weigh pros and cons, then select the option that has the highest chances of success. It may be helpful to seek out a trusted second opinion to gain a new perspective on the issue at hand.
- Choose among alternatives. When it’s time to make your decision, be sure that you understand the risks involved with your chosen route. You may also choose a combination of alternatives now that you fully grasp all relevant information and potential risks.
- Take action. Next, you’ll need to create a plan for implementation. This involves identifying what resources are required and gaining support from employees and stakeholders. Getting others onboard with your decision is a key component of executing your plan effectively, so be prepared to address any questions or concerns that may arise.
- Review your decision. An often-overlooked but important step in the decision making process is evaluating your decision for effectiveness. Ask yourself what you did well and what can be improved next time.
“Even the most experienced business owners can learn from their mistakes … be ready to adapt your plan as necessary, or to switch to another potential solution,” Chron Small Business explains. If you find your decision didn’t work out the way you planned, you may want to revisit some of the previous steps to identify a better choice.