Last Updated on 7 April 2011

Sand for Your Inbox
November 2009

It is great to have so many choices in life… from what to be when you grow up to what cereal to buy for breakfast… lots of choices.

The drawback is that so many options can make decision making confusing, sometimes leading to ‘bad decisions.’

It isn’t a big deal with low-risk decisions… For example, which toothpaste to buy or what movie should be next in your Netflix queue. However, the big decisions – where to go for vacation, which car or house to buy, or which new product to launch – need more rigor than simply ‘going with your gut.’

Making Better Decisions

To help with this process, I’ve created an spreadsheet-based Decision Making Tool. It is a matrix that allows you to:

  • Declare the decision you’re evaluating,
  • Identify and prioritize the qualities of the decision,
  • Enter a selection of potential Options or choices
    (what you’ll ultimately choose), and
  • Rank those options on how well they satisfy your needs.

The spreadsheet uses this information to provide a weighted score for each. The Option with the highest score is your most desired choice.

You will find this Decision Making Tool helps at home and office with any decisions you need to make. Using it, you will have more confidence and feel better about your decisions. Not bad for free, huh?!

Click to download the tool and get started:
Idea Sandbox Decision Making Tool (Excel Spreadsheet, 28 kb)

A Bit More Detail…

What makes this approach helpful is that it requires you to identify decision criteria – the values and qualities – you use to compare one option to another.

If you’re thinking about buying a car, what are the qualities or the values you are using that will help make up your mind? Perhaps you’re considering: safety, fuel efficiency, comfort, space for 3 people and +1 dog, payments at a certain level, etc.

At work, your team may be debating which new product to launch in the Spring. Qualities you may consider for this decision may include: being market ready, ease of implementation, seasonally appropriate, minimal training required, etc.

This tool is technically called a “Weighted Criteria Decision Matrix” and is used by professionals to make decisions using both quantitative (measurable) and qualitative (subjective) information.

I wish you only the best decisions.


Paul's Handwritten Signature


Paul Williams
professional problem solver
Idea Sandbox
Twitter: @IdeaSandbox

Idea Sandbox • Seattle | Amsterdam