Steps of Decision Making Process for The Best Outcome – with Example

Some can make good decisions most of the time while other can’t. What are the steps of decision making process that make the difference?

Analysis and data collection are the key decision making skills to form a sound decision. Yet data in any given time is likely to be limited, so you also need a strategy to form the best decision as possible.
Another thing to remember is decision making process has a changing nature. You'll probably make a totally different decision for the same problem than what you could make today, simply because more data is added over time and your analytical and strategical capability increase as well.

Read on to get the most critical steps of decision making process to form the soundest decision.

Definition of decision making

Decision making is a complex cognitive process in which one often has to choose a course of action. The higher the stake one has in a situation, the longer he or she needs to make a good decision.

Steps of decision making process

Below are the six steps of decision making process based on rationality model. And thus should work for decision making in both business and personal situations.

Step 1: Identify your goals

Knowing your goal is critical to set out for a sound decision. Without a goal, every decision could be the same and thus you shouldn’t spend much time to worry about making a decision.

And that’s the fundamental of decision making rationality.

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don’t much care where.”

“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”, said the Cheshire Cat.

Alice in wonderland

Step 2: Identify your needs

Then know your needs. From there, list down a set of qualities the best option should have.

At this step, you need to look forward as well, not just only the present – think about the outcomes of each option and how these outcomes would affect your business. Thus, note down a few more criteria for the best option.

Next, prioritize the criteria depend on your goals and your needs. Be strategic!

Step 3: List possible options

The step is as it is: write down the option that you probably choose and next, research it further (step 4).

Note: the option listing can be daunting if there are so many options. Shortlist the list by quickly checking against the critical criteria you have done in step 2.

Step 4: Collect as much as information as possible

Data-driven decision making is a must-have to form a sound decision.

Best news is that now you can collect information more easily than ever before thanks to the internet. Search online for each options and read relevant useful information.

For a life decision or any important one, you’ll probably see yourself best interviewing people for more information. These information is precious as it is specific and mostly is not available on the internet.

Last but not least, grade each option based on the criteria list you formed in step 2.

Steps in decision making process: Collect and analyze data

Step 5: Make decision

The most heavy work probably have been done in the previous steps. Now what you need to do is to look at the scores and pick the option with the highest one.

Yet, always review the information, criteria, and scoring to make sure there’s no mistake.

steps in decision making process is weighting options then choose the best one

Step 6: Adjust the moves as more information added

Even computers that can perform millions of operations per second can only make only the best decision at a given time. For example, in a chess game, computer only makes the best next move not the most optimal move of all time.

So why not people with way less capability than computer do the same thing: make the best decision at a particular time?

Decision-making process has a changing nature. For the same problem, you’ll probably make a totally different decision 5 years down the road than what you are likely to make now. The main reason is available data.

“It is often said that a wrong decision taken at the right time is better than a right decision taken at the wrong time.”

Pearl Zhu, Decision Master: The Art and Science of Decision Making

Decision making example

When 3Locks prepared for alpha launch, of which, emailing system was one of the critical parts, I was to pick an email service provider (ESP) to go forward with at least in a few first years.

example of decision making on what email sending platform to choose

Step 1: Identify goal

To use ESP to fulfill our marketing purpose.

Step 2: Identify needs

I need a option that is cost efficient as I don’t want to burn cash on the emailing infrastructure until it proves itself the effective marketing channel for us. And the chosen ESP needs to work for us at least a few years down the road and hassle-free to migrate to a new system if we ever decide to do so.

So, I have a list of criteria, in the descending order of importance:

  • Have features we need: landing page, welcome email, automation. (The actual list is long but you got the point)
  • Cost efficient
  • Sustainable for at least a few first years
  • Hassle-free to migrate to a new system

Step 3: List possible options

This was a little long process as there were a lot of ESPs! So I had to shortlist the options while searching for possible options.

Step 4: Collect information

This is mostly done online. There are a tons of reviews of the shortlist options on the internet. I just simply went through each of them and gauge out the most relevant valuable information.

Second, I also tried out each shortlisted option myself, executing the full email marketing process we plan to use. And noted down in the corresponding criteria that was created in step 2.

Step 5: Make decision

The one with the highest score is the winner. Finally, I picked Mailerlite if you’re curious 🙂 I went down the list from 10 to 5, then to 2 between Sendinblue and Mailerlite.

In the end, Mailerlite is the winner for now as I know a new ESP might be in need as 3Locks grows.

Step 6: Adjust the moves as more information added

We’re still in the beta phase and yet our needs for an ESP haven’t changed. I’ll update this post when we demand a new ESP (maybe a few years later *fingercrossed*).

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