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Often, I meet with clients who are struggling to make decisions. In a situation like that, I guide them through what I call the Decision Matrix.

Firstly I get them to identify the alternatives. Then, I get them to identify the key factors relevant to the decision. Then, for each alternative, I have them rate each factor. The alternative with the hightest score is usually the best answer.

Here’s a step–by-step guide through the process which will significantly improve how you make your decisions.

1. Identify the decisions to be made and the main choices or alternatives. List these across the top of the matrix.

2. Brainstorm as a group the Criteria/Factors that would influence the selection of the Choices/Alternatives.

3. You can select as many selection Criteria/Factors as you like but I like to keep it to no more than 10. In our example we have selected 4.

4. Having chosen the selection Criteria/Factors, you now need to weigh them individually to jointly total 100. (see example below in the Weighting column). With the weighting, you are recognising that some factors are more important than others so their score should count higher.

5. With the weighting in place you can now go ahead and score each of the selected Choices/Alternatives against each Criteria/Factor. Remember that your score for each Choice/Alternative cannot exceed the weighting you have allocated to the selection Criteria/Factor. It is recommended that your first Choice/Alternative be used as your benchmark for scoring the others and rated at 50% of the allocated weight. I strongly suggest you work across the table first and then down. This enables you to concentrate and focus on one important Criteria/Factor at a time and measure and weigh against all the Choices/Alternatives. It’s a lot easier this way.

6. Total all the scores.

7. Discuss and agree based on the scores what is the best decision to be made.

Sometimes, when we run through the matrix, the client might not be happy with the result. Usually, when we discuss why, we discover that there are some factors that are actually more important than the weightings allocated. Or indeed, a critical factor may have been completely left out. So, your first answer may not always be right but the process forces you to consider the answer you got against the answer you’d prefer and identify why they are different. This may cause you to go back and change either the factors or the weightings or both. At the end of the day, you’ll have a better decision.

8. Your basic Decision Matrix should look something like this, however there are many personal modifications you can add.

  Weighting Focus Avensis BMW 320
Purchase Cost 30 15 12 10
Running Cost 20 10 10 8
Image 30 15 15 25
Comfort 20 10 10 15
  100 50 47 58

As a bonus point, you can find time for strategic thinking. Here is a good explanation why.