12 Decision-Making Strategies

Updated June 24, 2022

Having strong decision-making skills is an important quality for professionals in every industry. Managers and leaders who practice using different decision-making strategies can make more effective decisions and have a positive impact on their organization. If you lead a team or a project, then learning about different decision-making strategies may benefit you. In this article, we explore what decision-making strategies are, discover who can benefit from them and list 12 different decision-making strategies you can try.

Related: 15 Ways To Improve Your Decision-Making Skills

What are decision-making strategies?

A decision-making strategy is an approach an individual uses to make an important decision. Since every situation is different, each decision-making strategy provides a unique framework to address specific needs and requirements. Learning about different decision-making strategies and practicing them can help you make more efficient decisions in your personal and professional life.

Who uses decision-making strategies?

Business professionals in every industry make decisions. While having a strong understanding of different decision-making strategies can benefit anyone who is looking to enhance their decision-making capabilities, managers and team leaders may find this knowledge especially useful. Managers and team leaders often make key decisions that impact the overall well-being of an organization. Being able to make effective decisions can help leaders make mindful choices that affect their team and organization positively.

Related: Optimizing Your Workplace Decision-Making Process in 7 Steps

12 Decision-making strategies

Here are 12 decision-making strategies you can explore:

1. Analytical decision-making

The analytical decision-making strategy uses logic, data and facts to make a rational decision. This strategy is an excellent choice if you have access to all the information you need to assess a situation accurately. Analytical decision-making usually follows a well-ordered sequence of steps that can help individuals break large or complex decisions into smaller, more manageable tasks. If you are dealing with a situation that uses concrete numbers or variables, then using an analytical decision-making strategy may be the right option for you.

Example: Thomas is a social media marketing expert who specializes in running advertising campaigns for large corporations. One of Thomas' clients wants to increase their marketing budget, and they ask him which social media platform they should spend the additional money on. Thomas uses the analytics from previous advertising campaigns and the data he has collected about his client's target audience to determine which social media platform has the highest return on investment (ROI).

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Analytical Skills

2. Command decision-making

Leaders who choose to use the command decision-making strategy make a choice without listening to input from other people. This approach can be useful in urgent or time-sensitive situations since it is the fastest and most direct form of decision-making. It can also provide team members with a clear sense of direction in fast-paced work environments. If you choose to use the command decision-making strategy, ensure you have enough knowledge about the subject to make an accurate and appropriate decision.

Example: Heather manages a coffee shop and creates a monthly work schedule for team members to assign their shifts. She has a strong understanding of who is able to work on different days and what each team members' skill sets are. Heather updates the work schedule at the end of every month and pins it to a bulletin board at the coffee shop to let her team know what the new schedule is.

3. Collaborative decision-making

A collaborative decision-making approach involves getting input from multiple people. Often, groups or teams work together to discuss a situation and develop a potential solution. Using this type of decision-making strategy can help you ensure your team members feel like you value their opinions. Many leaders also choose to incorporate feedback from clients, vendors and industry experts in their collaborative decision-making process. This approach can provide y with a more diverse perspective which can help you make a more objective, well-balanced decision.

Example: Lawrence's marketing agency needs to develop a new billboard campaign for one of their clients. Lawrence asks each team member to develop an idea to pitch at their next meeting. Then he has his team anonymously vote on which pitch they like the best. After they narrow their selection down to the top three pitches, Lawrence asks his team to develop a presentation for each of these ideas. Then they present the top three pitches to their client to determine which one the client likes best.

Related: How To Be a Collaborative Leader at Work

4. Expertise decision-making

Experts in a certain industry, career or subject matter may choose to use the expertise decision-making strategy. If you have enough knowledge or experience to make an intuitive decision about a particular topic, then this approach might be for you. The expertise decision-making method can help you make quick and informed decisions without having to debate or discuss a specific topic with other team members.

Example: Nathan has been a dentist for 35 years. When one of his patients tells him they are experiencing discomfort, Nathan quickly determines that they have a cavity. Nathan knows this is causing his patient's discomfort because he has treated many patients with cavities over the years. He schedules a follow-up appointment with his patient to fix the cavity.

5. Consensus-based decision-making

If you want to ensure everyone on your team is aligned about a decision, using the consensus-based decision-making strategy might be a good choice. In this approach, a leader presents all the relevant information to team members and requires them to agree on a single option. While consensus-based decision-making may take longer than many other strategies, it can promote a sense of unity and teamwork. To speed up your discussion, you may choose to present specific solutions to your team and ask them to choose one.

Example: Margaret is the president of a local nonprofit organization that was founded 50 years ago. She's decided it's time to update the nonprofit's branding to make it look more polished and professional. At the next board meeting, Margaret presents two new logos that a local marketing agency developed for the nonprofit. In order to update the nonprofit's logo, all the board members must agree on which logo they like best.

6. Random choice decision-making

Random choice decision-making is one of the simplest strategies available. When used appropriately, this approach can save you time and help you make effective decisions. You may flip a coin or select a random number to make your decision. Leaders often use this strategy for decisions that have minimal consequences and need to be made quickly. They may also use this method if the options they are choosing between have very similar or ambiguous outcomes.

Example: Natalie wants to treat her team to lunch, but some people want pizza and some people want tacos. To make a quick decision, Natalie decides to flip a coin. If it lands on heads, her team can have pizza. If it lands on tails, her team can have tacos. The coin lands on tails and Natalie orders tacos for her team.

7. Vote decision-making

Using the vote decision-making strategy allows you to make your decision based on what the majority of people want. This can be a great method for gathering direct input from a large group of people without spending an extensive amount of time in discussion. Leaders often provide their teams with a set of options to choose from to make it easier to count votes. Make sure you also give your team enough details and background information to understand the situation they are voting on.

Example: Mark is the owner of a film studio and he wants to submit one video from his team to a local film festival. There are three videos his team has produced over the last year that are all strong candidates to win an award. He decides to gather his team together to watch each of the videos and vote on which one they like the best. Mark submits the video that receives the most votes to the film festival.

8. Single feature decision-making

The single feature decision-making strategy can be an effective method to make quick decisions about simple topics. To use this approach, identify the most important feature your decision needs to include. Then choose an option that has that feature.

Example: Thomas is a plumber who needs to replace a 40-gallon water heater for one of his clients. When he asks his client what type of water heater they're interested in, they tell him they trust his judgement as long as the water heater costs less than $900. Thomas reviews what 40-gallon water heaters the company he works for has in stock and selects one that is less than $900 to install.

9. Delegation decision-making

Using the delegation decision-making strategy is a great option if you need input from someone who is well-informed on the topic. You can use this method to give the decision-making responsibilities to someone else, such as a consultant, expert or someone on your team that is more knowledgeable about the subject. The delegation decision-making strategy can save you time and make your team members feel like you value their opinions.

Example: Matthew is the manager at a growing technology startup. As he hires more people, he realizes the accounting and payroll system they have in place doesn't meet all their needs. The company's HR representative has over 30 years of experience working with different accounting and payroll systems, so Matthew asks her to create a list of her top three software recommendations for him to review.

Related: How To Delegate Tasks in the Workplace

10. Additive feature decision-making

The additive feature decision-making strategy accounts for all the most important features before systematically evaluating each option. This approach can help you make challenging decisions. To start, make a list of all the important features you want to consider. Then evaluate each of your options by determining which of the important features they include. This can help you rank your options and identify which one has the most important features.

Example: Lydia is a freelance photographer who wants to purchase a new camera. To help her decide which camera is the best, she makes a list of the most important features she wants her new camera to have. Then she ranks each of her top three camera options based on which of the features they include. She chooses to purchase the camera that has the most features.

11. Elimination by aspects decision-making

The elimination by aspects decision-making strategy works well when you have multiple options to choose from. To use this approach, identify what the most important features are. Starting with the most important feature, evaluate each option one by one. Then systematically eliminate each option that doesn't meet the criteria you've set in place until you have just one choice left.

Example: Lance works for a digital marketing company and is looking for new software to help his team measure their campaign analytics. He makes a list of what the most important features are. Starting with the most important feature, Lance compares each of the software options. If an option doesn't include one feature, he eliminates it. This helps Lance determine which software has all the most important features.

12. Availability heuristic decision-making

Availability heuristic decision-making strategies can help leaders make effective decisions in ambiguous situations. This method can help you determine how likely something is by comparing your current situation to a similar event from the past. By reflecting on what you've learned from previous experiences, you may be able to determine what the best decision is.

Example: Kathleen is planning her company's annual holiday party for the fifth year in a row. In the past, more people attended when the holiday party was on a Friday. Kathleen decides to schedule this year's holiday party on a Friday to increase her team's attendance.

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