Decision Making by Matrix


Professionals get paid for results. The quality of those results is primarily determined by the quality of your decisions. One proven method for improving decision quality is through the use of a decision matrix.


There are several benefits of using a decision matrix:


- higher probability of a positive outcome

- lower influence of cognitive biases

- documentation that can be reviewed - especially after a poor outcome

- more team involvement in the process


Of course, you wouldn’t use a decision matrix for small decisions that have low risk, reward or impact, like deciding what color socks to wear. But for decisions that may incur high costs or risks, it is worth the extra effort.


A decision matrix consists of determining the criteria that should be considered, assigning a weight to each of those criteria, and evaluating each potential option by that criteria. The scores are multiplied by the criteria weights and the results are added to get an overall score for each option.


It’s not as difficult as it sounds, so let’s look at an example.


You are considering replacing a software system for your organization because you are getting a lot of complaints about the current system. You determine the 5 most important criteria and the 4 best options.


Option C is not the cheapest, easiest to use, or quickest to learn, but it clearly has the best feature set which is a highly rated (weighted) criteria. Option D has the highest non-weighed score, but does not score as well in the most important criteria.


Keep in mind that better decision making produces better outcomes over time. However, the outcome of an individual decision may not be based on the quality of the decision because outside factors can cause a suboptimal result - factors you could not control or anticipate.


By reviewing the decision matrix after the outcome has been determined (good or bad), you can look for potential errors in weighting or option scoring and use that information to make better decisions in the future.


Remember, decisions are about maximizing probabilities. The best decisions create either the highest probability for the best result, or the lowest probability of a bad result.


Think well to live well.


- Steve Haffner, mind performance strategist


Want to learn more about improving your decision making and performance?

Click here for my free book, 7 Strategies for Making Better Decisions