Have you ever had to make a decision with too many options or factors to consider all at once? Or perhaps you’d like to be more objective about your choices. Or maybe you need to document your decision to make it more defensible later on (“your honor, this chart shows why Grape Nehi is clearly superior to Orange”). Whatever the reason, you may find that a simple decision matrix is all you need.
I’ve been using various forms of my decision matrix to make both personal and professional decisions for as long as I can remember. In recent years, I discovered that my method is very similar to portions of a Kepner-Tregoe Matrix (“KT Matrix”). If you’re interested in a much deeper understanding of their techniques, I wholeheartedly recommend The New Rational Manager by Charles H. Kepner and Benjamin B. Tregoe. It’s a fantastic book.
Anyway, I’ve found myself using my decision matrix in more and more situations recently, and people have started asking for copies of the spreadsheet. I re-formatted it a bit, added some simple instructions, and I’ve been e-mailing it to anyone who asks. I’m sure someone with more spreadsheet skills could improve what I’ve created, and if anyone would like me to share their improved version, please contact me directly.
To use the decision matrix, I recommend the following steps (whether you’re doing this alone or with a group). By the way, you’ll get the most objective decisions by writing down your results on paper or a whiteboard before entering them into the spreadsheet. If you use the spreadsheet, it’s too easy to see the options jockeying for position.
And you’re done! If everything worked correctly, the best option (according to your attributes, weights, and scores) should be the option with the highest overall score in the last column. Often, there are additional factors that can’t easily be included with attributes alone, so the final decision maker should really use this data as good advice. Perhaps best of all, you have a defensible document that summarizes which attributes of your decision were important, how they relate to each other, and how each option was scored.
Download my Decision Matrix Excel spreadsheet (21.5KB), and start making objective, defensible decisions!
This is great! I'm going to try to apply this to my stock picking to see if it improves my "slot market" skills.
It seems to me the attribute scores can be actual data for each option like horsepower, gas mileage, price if you keep the scores within 2 or 3 orders of magnitude. I just figured out that costs should be negative numbers and benefits positive numbers. A car example: price would be -25(thousand)dollars, monthly maintenance -80 dollars, gas mileage 33 mpg, horsepower 200 (or maybe 20 to maintain scaling).
We were doing the *exact* same thing in Lotus 1-2-3 back in the '85 when I taught Lotus at a corporate Info Center.
Great matrix, my wife and I used it to help in deciding whether to move from where we live now, or to another city.
The spreadsheet and the method look very useful. I've downloaded it, and will let you know how it works. I intend to try it both personally and professionally.