• Joumana Elomar

The Decision Matrix: Making Hard Choices Easier

Life is full of hard decisions. When we face situations that have more than one great choice, it can be difficult to make a call. In these moments, it's easy to fall into the trap of decision paralysis where we feel so overwhelmed by the choices before us that we don't make one. Equally, it can easy to discount some decisions because they're harder to analyse or more uncertain. So how do we approach this?


The Decision Matrix

The decision matrix is a tool that helps you look at your choices and compare them more objectively. It gives you a framework to weigh up several options and decide on the best one by assessing a number of factors in a very simple way. It looks like this:

How It Works

It's a simple table with mighty powers. So basically you lay out each choice (i.e. McDonald's or KFC), the criteria that's important to you (i.e. Crispiness of fries, fried chicken choice, soft drink quality) and then calculate a score for each option based on that criteria. Now, if you're not necessarily math-inclined there's no need to stress! This is simple math absolutely anyone can use.


Here's how to tackle it:

  1. Choose a decision

  2. List the options

  3. Identify your criteria. What factors do you want to consider?

  4. Score the options on each criteria

  5. Add weight to the criteria

  6. Calculate the scores. So multiply each score by the the factor weight and then add them up!

  7. Pick a winner. The higher scores indicate the better options.

The great thing about the decision matrix is how flexible it is. We can use it for hard choices in our personal lives e.g. "Should I move overseas?" or in our professional lives e.g. "Which programs should my team use?". By using this simple tool it can help us:

  • Overcome decision paralysis

  • Reduce decision fatigue

  • Reduce subjectivity in decision-making

  • Clarify and prioritise options

Example

Suppose you've received two amazing job offers but you don't know whether to stay your work or take one of the two. You've done your research and you can see yourself thriving at all of the options. You're torn between the choices. So your three options are: stay at your current job, jump into a start-up or transition into a corporate role. Let's put them into your decision matrix table.

Now you think about your criteria. So maybe salary, flexibility and meaningful work are the three things you care about. You can add as many important criteria points as you'd like!

Then you score your options from 1 to 5. So let's say your salary for your current job is 90K, the new start-up is 97K and the corporate role is 110K. So in that case, your current role might get a 3, the start-up a 4 and the corporate role a 5. And you do this for every criteria point!

Now, not all of your criteria is weighed the same. Some of your criteria might be more important to you than the others. So next you add weight to your criteria. So let's say you believe your meaningful work is the top priority followed by salary then flexibility. So you'd weigh those in:

You're almost done! The second last step is you multiply the scores by the weight of each factor. Then, you add up the scores and you have a final score for every option. And voila!

Now you should have a clear winner! In the small chance that you have two equal scores you might need to zoom into those two options and flesh out more criteria points. Happy deciding!



Tying it up

The decision matrix is an easy way to make hard choices. With this tool up your sleeve, you can more easily tackle hard decisions in your personal or professional life. Seeing all the options laid out with your chosen criteria can make the best choice clear for you.