Many processes involve decision makings. Often making these decisions involves searching for, considering and making judgments on a wide range and large volume of data. Having found all the information, and being assured of the relevance of every item it, somehow making the decision doesn’t seem any easier. In fact the sheer volume of information may just be hiding the wood from the trees.
One helpful approach is to stand back from all the information and try to identify which few elements actually “feel” to be key to making the decision. This may involve tapping into your intuition or, if you prefer, your “gut feelings”. Next express these elements as closed questions – is the answer either “Yes” or “No”. Then add the outcome associated with the “Yes” answer and with the “No” – typically this will be the action that the decision maker needs to take next. Assemble the questions into a decision tree.
In some instances, reaching a decision may involve answering several questions, trying to find an overall “Yes” or “No”. If time is a priority – perhaps you have to review many cases per day and need to spend as little time on each as possible – try to rank or sequence the questions to increase the chances of getting to the answer high up the decision tree. Review the questions and amend them – aim to draft the questions so that should you achieve the desired answer at any point you can stop the whole process. What you are aiming to do is to reach a decision as early as possible and not have to pose every question to get to the answer. In the example decision tree below, developed using bCisive, achieving a “Yes” answer at any point achieves the goal of the decision tree and stops the process.
This is all explained in an entertaining and enlightening fashion by Gerd Gigerenzer in his book, “Gut Feelings: Short Cuts to Better Decision Making”. If you are involved in decision making or are preparing procedures or decision trees this book will be of great help in developing your analysis of the problem and the design of the procedure.