The Five-Step Decision Making Process

You can adapt the familiar five-step decision making process (outlined below) to decide which program or service to assess.

Step 1 Identifying/clarifying the decision to be made. If the decision has not yet been isolated, it should be identified as a first step. Sometimes the decision to be made will have been presented to the decision maker. In those situations, Step 1 calls for the clarification of what the decision actually entails.

Step 2 Identifying possible decision options. The next step requires the decision maker to spell out, as clearly as possible, just what the decision alternatives really are. For instance, if one were attempting to buy a bicycle, do the decision options only consist of the different types of bicycles, or is another option to refrain from buying a bicycle altogether?

Step 3 Gathering/processing information. Next, the decision maker collects or processes information that can help guide the decision. If such information is already at hand, then it simply needs to be processed; that is, studied and understood by the decision maker. If there is no relevant information available, or if there is insufficient information, then such information must be collected so it can be processed. The more significant the decision, the more rigorous the information-gathering process.

Step 4 Making/implementing the decision. After the information has been considered according to its relevance and significance, a decision based on that information should be made and, thereafter, implemented.

Step 5 Evaluating the decision. In recognition of the fact that not all of one's decisions are likely to be defensible, the final step in the five-step decision making process is to determine whether the decision was appropriate. Ordinarily, this will be done by ascertaining the decision's consequences.