7 Steps for a Good Decision Making Process

Steps for a Good Decision Making ProcessTheodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” How true! Yet when it comes to important decisions, many of us get stuck in the decision making process.


The reasons are different for each person. Some people don’t like change. Others battle fear. Still others lack confidence. No matter what the reason, when we get paralyzed in the decision making process, we end up with the absolute worst result…no decision!

Next time you feel unsure about how to make a decision, follow these seven steps in a good decision making process to help you get unstuck.

7 Steps for a Good Decision Making Process

Problem. You likely don’t get stuck making decisions with clear outcomes. It’s the decisions with unclear outcomes that stop you in your tracks. This is because hard decision create problems that need to be solved. The first step in a good decision making process is to clearly articulate the problem you are trying to solve. The better you articulate the problem, the better your start in the decision making process.

Reframe. Problems are not dead ends, they’re detours. They are opportunities looking for solutions. If you reframe your problem into the solution you’d like to achieve, you’ll have a clearer vision for your decision.

Options. Most people get stuck not knowing how to make a decision because they are looking for the one, right way. Yet there is no one, right way to make a good decision. Most often there are many paths that lead to a good decision. This means that after you have clearly articulated the problem and reframed it into the solution you want to achieve, step #3 is to list as many options as possible for arriving at your decision. A great tool for evaluating the pros and cons of different options is a SWOT analysis.

Craft. After you evaluate your options, it’s time to pick one and craft a plan. This is where most people get stuck because of fear or lack of self confidence. DON’T BE LIKE MOST PEOPLE! If you have done a SWOT analysis and weighed the pros and cons, it’s time to make a choice. Remember, the worst decision you can make is no decision.

Execute. Don’t make this step hard. Follow the plan you craft. Be flexible enough to adjust to unexpected challenges and opportunities, but for the most part simply follow your plan.

Size Up. As you execute your plan, be sure to evaluate it along the way. For decisions that take time to implement, a good strategy is to evaluate every 90 days.

Sure Up or Scratch. As you execute and evaluate, there will likely be areas that need strengthened or improved. In other instances you’ll discover your plan is not achieving the desired results and a new plan is needed. In either case, this is what makes any decision better than no decision. No decision leads you nowhere, whereas even if you have to scratch a decision, at least you know what doesn’t work and have new insight into what probably will work.

One last comment. Notice this is a PROCESS. Each step builds upon the former. What’s more, it’s circular. If you have to scratch a decision, you simply circle back to the problem and start again.



  • What part of this 7 Step Decision Making Process is most challenging for you? Why?
  • Is there anything you would add to the Decision Making Process?


  • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

    I haven’t seen this laid out with the word PROCESS before – makes it easy to remember! I agree, we need to make a list or 20 or 30 options, not one or two. Often just the process of trying to come up with more than the first two obvious solutions generates ideas that would have never been discovered.

    • http://liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

      Your 20 to 30 options comment fits with the “5 Why’s” post you shared recently. Here’s a link if anyone wants to check it out. Good stuff!


      • http://www.mondayisgood.com/ Tom Dixon

        Thanks, Kent!

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    This is a very practical and insightful post. I personally find I over evaluate or think about the decision so that leads me to putting off making one.

    • http://liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

      I hear you, Dan. I have learned that setting limits on how long I evaluate a big decision is key to me moving forward. Once I hit the deadline, I make a decision and get moving (at least, I do that most of the time :)

      • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

        Great point. Deadlines are always good.