Four ways to better decisions

MAKING decisions is one of the most important parts of any job. In a new book called The Decision Book, two Swiss academics have outlined 50 models to help sharpen up your strategic thinking. Here are four tools for making better decisions.

1. The Eisenhower Matrix. US president Dwight D Eisenhower said that “the most urgent decisions are rarely the most important”. Make a matrix with importance on one axis and urgency on the other – this will help you rank tasks. Do the ones that are both urgent and important first, delegate those which are urgent but not important, decide when you will do things that are important but not urgent and shelve the rest.

2. The SWOT Analysis. A 1960s study of Fortune 500 companies found that 35 per cent of the time people weren’t doing what the management wanted them to do. The problem was that their objectives were unclear. Before starting a project, outline your and your team’s Strengths and Weaknesses, and the Opportunities and Threats the project involves. This should help clarify what needs to be done, and when.

3. The Rubber Band Model. A version of a “pros and cons” model, but better suited to a situation where you have to choose between two attractive alternatives, such as taking a new job. Ask what is holding you where you are, and what is pulling you towards the alternative, then decide which of these is strongest.

4. The Feedback Model. Evaluating feedback can be very hard, and fraught with emotion. Nobody likes criticism, and furthermore it can be hard to see what to do about it. To process feedback better, put it into four categories: Advice, Compliment, Criticism and Suggestion. This should help you decide what comments require action, and which should be ignored. For example, compliments are nice, but do not tell you where you need to improve.

The Decision Book, by Roman Tschäppeler and Mikael Krogerus, is available now from Profile Books for £9.99
Jeremy Hazlehurst