How to Create a Good Decision Frame

Which answer makes the following statement true for you?

Decision-making is easy:

  • Often.
  • Always.
  • Almost never.
  • If you find decision-making an ordeal – and many people do – you can make it far easier with a good decision-making process.

    A good decision-making process starts by creating a good decision frame.

    Creating a good decision frame is almost like describing the missing piece that you’re looking for as you try to solve a jigsaw puzzle.

    When you create an effective decision frame, a good decision can almost seem to fall out of the process automatically.

    That’s because it will seem familiar, somehow, when you’ve carefully considered what the ideal solution is, what the priorities and options are, and when you’ve done your research to know the costs and benefits of each possibility.

    Well-framed and researched, a good decision will become clear, almost naturally.

    These are some of the things to consider as you create your decision frame:

  • Know what problem you’re solving when you make this decision
  • Understand who the decision customers are
  • Understand what decision criteria and priorities will be used to make the decision
  • Be clear about what’s in and what’s out as this decision is being made
  • Understand who will make the decision and how they’ll make it
  • To frame the decision, answer these questions:

    What’s the problem you’re solving, specifically?

    Be clear about what problem you’re solving with this decision.

    Without a well-defined problem statement, or a clear goal, you can go off-track right from the beginning of the decision-making process.

    Know what you’re aiming for.

    Who are the customers of this decision? Do they see the problem the same way?

    Many people can be involved in making a decision, but not everyone has to live with the outcome of the decision.

    The primary decision customers are the people who are most directly affected by the results of the decision, whatever they are. with these customers want an ideal decision

    What do these customers want in an ideal decision?

    Customers’ needs and wants may be two different things.

    What do the decision customers want in the decision that’s made and implemented?

    What do they need?

    If you don’t know, ask them, or ask a representative sample of people who will be affected by the results.

    Understand their priorities, as well.

    What is most important to them in the decision and its outcome? What can they live without, if they must?

    What’s in and what’s out as you make this decision?

    When you’re making a decision to take a certain course of action or commit resources in some way, you’re also deciding not to do something else.

    And sometimes the real problem with decision-making is not that it’s hard to say “yes” to one course of action, but rather, that it’s harder to say “no” to another one.

    Know what you’re choosing not to do when you’re making this decision.

    If you’re planning a vacation, for example, and have children who will be on the trip with you, you may put a higher priority on a well-planned series of activities that will keep them busy and happy than you do on luxury accommodations you might choose if you were planning a romantic trip for two.

    Consider, also, any constraints you have for the decision that’s being made.

    For example, are there cost restrictions or deadlines by which the decision must be made and all actions fully implemented?

    Be clear about all the requirements for the decision and a good outcome.

    Who will make the decision, and how will it be made?

    Know how the decision will be made, and who will make it.

    For example, will a committee be making the decision and each person in the group has one vote?

    Will a committee be advising a final decision-maker?

    Is a person making this decision by him or herself?

    Understand what a win is to each person involved in making the final decision. Understand what failure is to each person, as well.

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