Weighted Decision Matrix

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A Decision Matrix can help select among several similar options to make a rational decision. While some decisions are simple such as what to wear or what to eat for lunch, others are more complex and are best considered including some criteria. For example, when choosing among job offers, our criteria might include benefits, company culture, location and job responsibilities.

It is best to use the tool when the options look fairly similar to each other yet you want to objectively decide which is the best option. By using the tool, you ensure all important factors have been considered before an option is selected, preventing you from potentially jumping to the wrong conclusion.

Let’s use the example of choosing among job offers you have received.

The first step is to create your grid or matrix. It is organized into a table of rows and columns. Fill out the ROWS with the options you’re considering. For our example, we’ll name the companies you are considering A, B and C.

Then, identify the criteria you’ll use to evaluate the options. Take some time to brainstorm which criteria you will use. If applicable, involve other stakeholders to help you with your list of key criteria. For our example you might include family or your business coach. Populate your COLUMNS with your criteria.

As you deliberate, identify which attributes the final decision MUST have. This will help you eliminate choices that don’t fit your requirements. In our example, if the company being within driving distance of your home is a MUST then you can eliminate out-of-state options immediately.

Now you are ready to evaluate your criteria against the options. You will score how well each criterion is met under each option. There are a few ways to do this but for our example we will rate criteria on a scale (typically 1-5). The higher the number, the better that criterion matches the option.

Finally, although you have your options ranked by criteria, not all criteria will have the same level of priority. For example, if you have tight budgetary concerns, Compensation may be more important than other criteria in your table.

To measure this difference in priority, you will need to weigh the requirements from least to most important. It’s easiest to use the same scale as you did to rank the options.

Finally, it’s time to score your options to identify which decision to make.

To calculate each option’s final score, simply multiply each option’s rank by each criterion’s weight. For instance, if you had Culture as a criterion weighted at 4 and Option A had a rank of 2 for that criterion, you would multiply 4 times 2 to get 8.

After you repeat the process for each option across every criterion you will have a score and a final rank of each option.

While this is an example of a relatively simple decision, the approach works just as well for more complex problems and solutions.

Next time you’re faced with a sticky decision, by using this simple methodology you can find the clarity and confidence you need to move forward on decisions big and small.