Monday, January 2, 2012

Seven Step Decision-Making Process

Here is a graphical representation of the seven step decision-making process:
Seven step decision-making process

Step 1: Define the decision you want to make.
Focus and narrow the decision to something that is clear and specific—and where we have real choices. What method of decision making will we use (intuitive or rational/analytical)?

  • Narrow the decision: Develop a decision statement that is specific, narrow, and within our sphere of influence and action.
  • Identify whom to involve: Who has key information essential to an effective understanding of the issue that needs addressing? Who will be expected to implement whatever decisions are made?


Step 2: Define your desired outcomes, strategic objectives, and higher purpose. 
When the decision is made, what will the short-term solution look like? What are your desired objectives and outcomes. What is your strategic objective in making this decision? How does this decision relate to the vision and strategic goals? What higher purpose or long-term goal will be achieved through making this decision?
  • Identify measures of success: How will you know that the decision you have made is the right one? How will you measure the quality of the final decision? How will you evaluate the outcome’s contribution to the organization’s strategic agenda?
  • Sort out “musts” and “wants”: Review the list of objectives and outcomes and identify those that are must objectives (characteristics that the eventual solution must have or must satisfy) and those that are want objectives (desirable characteristics, but not required). Rank-order the wants from most to least important and assign values to each (10 = most important; 1 = least important).

Step 3: Identify decision alternatives and options. 
Identify at least three or four possible decision alternatives. If there are no alternatives, then your decision is whether to implement your only option.

Step 4: Select the best alternative. 
Apply the musts and weighted wants criteria. The best alternative satisfies all the musts and is best at satisfying the wants.

Step 5: Identify potential roadblocks and setbacks. 
What are the possible forces, factors, events, or constraints that may inhibit progress in successfully implementing the decision?

Step 6: Develop an action/implementation plan. 
What actions should you take to implement the selected decision? What actions will you take to proactively respond to potential roadblocks and, therefore, protect our plan? Who is responsible for taking the specified actions? When will the actions occur?

Step 7: Implement the plan, monitor progress, and revise the plan. 
Implement the plan and monitor the results. Are you seeing the desired results? What actions need to be revised? What new actions should take place? What should you keep doing?


This seven step process is a complete process description based on described activities. The frontend description is complete, looking at the definition and the linkage with higher level decisions such as a strategy. The act of choosing the best option is described in detail, a simple evaluation framework is described. The use of must and want criteria is good. The use of a more elaborate evaluation scheme would be beneficial in the process. The end with identifying roadblocks, planning and executing the implementation is rather complete, but misses a final review for your own learning.

The process works well for up to 10 want criteria, otherwise the ranking is impossible, since the values only range from 10 to 0. 


More information about different decision making processes: List of all reviewed decision-making processes. See the comparison of the optional decision-making methods for further study.

Here is a link to the presentation, which describes this seven step process in more detail:

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