Visual Tools to Master the Decision-Making Process

Updated on: 25 October 2023 | 8 min read
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The average adult makes about 35000 decisions a day. The quality of these decisions in many ways shape the quality of our lives. Some decisions are as simple as what to have for breakfast, and what clothes to wear while others can be life-altering, impacting our careers, relationships, and well-being.

The significance of effective decision-making translates even more acutely into the world of business. The success of an enterprise comes down to the ability to make good decisions when it matters the most. Businesses that fail often, do so due to a poor decision-making process. We’ll explore why the decision-making process is central to business success and how using some simple frameworks can help boost your critical thinking and keep your decision-making on point.

Why is decision-making so hard?

Despite how often we make choices, decision-making is not easy. Most times making decisions is surrounded by uncertainty and complexity, it is hard to get the right information required to make a decision free from bias, emotion, or prejudice. To make better decisions, you have to recognize and understand these biases. Here are the most common cognitive biases to avoid.

Confirmation Bias: This bias involves seeking and favoring information that confirms preexisting beliefs or hypotheses while avoiding or downplaying contradictory information. For example, if a manager believes that a particular strategy will lead to success, they may focus on data that supports this belief and dismiss data that suggests otherwise.

Anchoring Bias: Anchoring bias happens when individuals rely too heavily on the first piece of information encountered when making decisions. This initial information serves as an “anchor” that influences subsequent judgments. For instance, in negotiations, the first offer made can anchor the entire bargaining process.

Overconfidence Bias: Overconfidence bias can make individuals overestimate their own abilities, knowledge, or the accuracy of their beliefs and predictions. This bias can lead to taking on uncalculated risks or underestimating the challenges involved.

Hindsight Bias: Hindsight bias, or the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect, occurs when people believe after an event has occurred, that they would have predicted or expected the outcome. The result can be a distorted view of past decisions that makes learning from them tough.

Availability Heuristic: The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut where people assess the probability of an event based on its ease of recall or the availability of similar examples. For instance, if someone recalls a recent success story of a small startup becoming a huge success, they may overestimate the likelihood of their own small startup achieving the same level of success. organizations should master: 

Creative Decision-Making:

Creative decision-making is a type of decision where intuition and brainstorming play a significant role in determining a solution. This approach relies on innovative thinking and creative problem-solving rather than structured data and analysis. It’s often used in situations where there’s no clear precedent or when creativity is crucial to finding a unique solution. This could involve designing a new advertising campaign that targets a niche market segment and can involve creative decision-making. The team might brainstorm various creative concepts and select the one that connects most with the target audience.

Recognition-Primed Decision-Making:

This is the decision-making process that involves referring to prior similar situations or experiences to determine how to solve a new task or challenge. It’s based on recognizing patterns and applying familiar strategies to resolve a problem efficiently. This type of decision-making is especially useful in fast-paced or emergency situations.

Rational Decision-Making:

Rational decision-making prioritizes research, critical thinking, and systematic analysis. This approach emphasizes gathering data, assessing alternatives, and making choices based on facts and logic, often while minimizing personal bias or intuition. It’s suitable for decisions that have a significant impact on an organization’s objectives.

Mastering the Decision-Making Process

To optimize your decision-making process it is useful to use a structured framework for approaching complex decisions. It provides a systematic approach to addressing various types of decisions, ensuring that choices are made thoughtfully and focused on achieving the best possible outcomes. Let’s review the decision-making process briefly:

1. Define the Decision: Defining the decision is the critical first step. It’s important to be specific about what problem you intend to address or the question you need to answer. The key is to make the decision clear, measurable, and time-bound. Vague or overly broad decisions can lead to confusion and ineffectiveness.

  • What is the problem that needs to be solved?
  • What is the goal you plan to achieve by implementing this decision?
  • How will you measure success?

2. Gather Relevant Information: The old adage “knowledge is power” is particularly relevant in decision-making. Gathering relevant information involves collecting data both from within and outside your organization. Internal data helps you assess your organization’s previous successes and failures in areas related to your decision. External data, such as market research, competitor analysis, and industry trends, provide insights into the broader landscape.

3. Identify Alternatives: In this stage, you brainstorm and identify multiple possible solutions to the problem. Even in seemingly binary decisions, like launching a new product or not, it’s valuable to consider various alternatives. The more options you explore, the more likely you are to find an innovative solution.

4. Weigh the Evidence: Analyzing the evidence involves a thorough examination of the pros and cons of each alternative. It’s often beneficial to seek input from your team to ensure you’ve considered all aspects. Tools like SWOT analysis help provide a well-rounded picture for you to make better judgments. You should also identify potential pitfalls for each alternative and weigh them against the potential rewards.

5. Choose Among Alternatives: Making the decision is where the rubber meets the road. After defining, gathering, identifying, and weighing, you should be well-prepared to make your choice. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that every decision carries inherent risks and uncertainties. By involving your team and considering all available data, you can make the best-informed choice.

6. Take Action: Taking action is about transforming your decision into reality. This step requires developing a comprehensive plan to implement the decision and assigning specific tasks to your team members. Your project plan should include key milestones, timelines, and responsibilities to ensure the decision’s successful execution.

7. Review Your Decision: Once the decision has been implemented, it’s crucial to review its performance. In step one, you defined the decision with specific, measurable, and time-bound criteria. Now, you must assess whether your decision met those criteria. Analyzing the decision’s impact and results will provide valuable insights for future choices. Post-project reviews help in continuous improvement and adaptive decision-making.

For a more in-depth analysis check out our visual tools to aid in decision-making.

Visual Tools to Enhance Your Decision-Making Process

Visual tools play a significant role in simplifying and clarifying complex decision-making processes. These tools help with brainstorming, analysis, and the visualization of various aspects of a decision. They allow teams to come to a consensus together- giving them the ability to access the right information and consider multiple perspectives before choosing a path forward.

Decision Matrix: A decision matrix is an organized table that helps you compare and evaluate multiple options based on various criteria. Each option is ranked or scored, allowing you to see which one aligns best with your objectives. It’s particularly useful for complex decisions with numerous factors to consider in the decision-making process.

SWOT Analysis: SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This tool helps you assess the internal strengths and weaknesses of your organization and the external opportunities and threats in your environment. It provides a comprehensive view of your decision context and helps you determine the best course of action.

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Use the SWOT analysis to evaluate your options

Mind Maps: Mind maps are visual representations of ideas, concepts, and their relationships. They are great for brainstorming and organizing thoughts around a decision. Mind maps encourage creativity and can reveal connections between different elements of your decision.

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Fishbone Diagram: Also known as an Ishikawa or cause-and-effect diagram, a fishbone diagram helps you identify the root causes of a problem. It’s a valuable tool for complex decisions where you need to understand the underlying issues contributing to the problem.

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Understand the cause and effect of decisions with the Fishbone diagram

Decision Trees: Decision trees visually map potential outcomes and decisions in a structured format. They are particularly helpful when decisions have multiple stages or choices that lead to different results. Decision trees are often used in financial and risk analysis.

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Use the decison tree to map your decisions

Prioritization Matrix: A prioritization matrix helps you rank alternatives based on their importance and potential impact. It’s useful when you need to decide which options to focus on first or allocate resources efficiently.

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Weigh options with the priority matrix

Mastering the art and science of making effective decisions in business is the difference between success and failure. It’s a process that requires constant tinkering and refinement. Finding a process that works for you and can be implemented across your team allows you to be nimble, and effective, and results in you getting more things done. We’d love to know what are some ways you optimize your decision-making process. Let us know in the comments below.

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Author

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Chiraag George Communication Specialist

Chiraag George is a communication specialist here at Creately. He is a marketing junkie that is fascinated by how brands occupy consumer mind space. A lover of all things tech, he writes a lot about the intersection of technology, branding and culture at large.

View all posts by Chiraag George →