Practical Decision-Making Guide

Decision Making 101 & Practical Toolkits

We make dozens of decisions every day, some simple, some more complex. An adult makes roughly 35,000 conscious decisions each day. The purpose of this article is to provide a practical guideline to make solid decisions in professional and personal settings.

What is Decision Making?

Why is Decision Making important?

Smart People Make Terrible Decisions


What decisions do you need to make?

The Decision Matrix — How to prioritize

Not all decisions are important. Use this matrix to prioritize what decisions need to be made.

“Ok, I mark my emails as Urgent A, Urgent B, Urgent C, Urgent D. Urgent A is the most important. Urgent D you don’t even really have to worry about.” — Michael Scott

The Decision Matrix — How to allocate your time

One of the challenges for leaders is that there are many critical decisions that need to be made within a limited time. In order to further prioritize where to spend your time, we can look at the following two dimensions: Consequence vs. Reverse.

How to make decisions?

I summarized the decision-making process into the following five steps and provided practical toolkits to help you take action.



3. Generate alternatives

4. Prioritize alternatives


5. Communicate the decision

1. Define The Problem

Before jumping into decision-making, it is critical to define the problem and the goal. When the WHY is clear, the HOW is easy.

Common Mistakes


2. Identify Stakeholders

On the occasion when we are not the sole decision-maker, understanding all players and their relationships become key. Stakeholder mapping and ecosystem mapping are great tools for this purpose.

a. List out all players

b. Categorization examples

c. Prioritization

d. Create communication strategies

3. Generate Alternatives

Now that we’ve understood the problem space, goals and key players, it is time to practice divergent thinking. Using the following toolkits to brainstorm ideas.


4. Prioritize Alternatives

Once we generate a great number of ideas, the next step is Convergent Thinking aka prioritization.


5. Communicate The Decision

Once decisions are made, we often need to communicate the rationale with others especially when there are multiple stakeholders involved. Here is a checklist to document the context, evidence and rationale.

Thanks for reading! What the best and worst decisions you’ve made? I would love to hear your stories and thoughts. If you want to chat about design leadership, design strategy or just want to say hello, connect me via LinkedIn.

Design Strategist | Toronto | When the WHY is clear, the HOW is easy.

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