Is there a problem? No problem. Decisionmaking tools
Hello, Habre! My name is Iryna Remizova, I am the curator of the system analysis department of Sportmaster Lab, where, in fact, I supervise system analysts, developing them and talking about decisionmaking tools.
In this post, I will talk about three tools that I use in my work and give a number of practical examples. If you sometimes have problems making decisions (and there are usually enough problems, as well as the factors that cause them), then maybe you need a post.
Let’s start with BBM. This is an acronym of three words, which are the three reactions of a person when making a decision. Bol (acquisition or loss), bthe feeling of making a wrong decision (right or wrong) and muk (what if…).
Contents
Why is it so difficult?
When we have many factors, or vice versa — there are not enough of them, or we do not know what the variables are in these factors, then uncertainty arises. The second reason is complexity. There can be many factors, they can be confused in their connections or completely exclude each other. High risk has consequences: our decision affects us, the people around us, our decisions can lead to radical changes in fate.
There are still interpersonal problems. You made a decision that affected someone else. The reaction of this person also affects you, so when making a decision, you can save the relationship (or lose it).
The latter is an insane number of options and alternatives to our solutions. We will go through them, evaluate each of them, each of them has some risk or some price. Such a large number of alternatives creates difficulty in choosing.
Decisionmaking rules
Tony Robbins, an American writer, coach and business trainer, offers the following rules.
The first rule is to always make your own decisions on paper. When we visualize what we propose to discuss, we touch the prefrontal cortex of the head, which is responsible for coordinating our thoughts and actions. When we run through our ideas in our head, we get stuck on the same thoughts and don’t let our brain release any new ideas, so always use a pen and paper when making a decision.
The second rule is that you must answer the question “What do I want?” What is my goal?”. Not what your management or family wants, but what will be the best solution just for you.
The third rule is to consider that your decisions are based on probability. For example, you came to a restaurant to have lunch. To begin with, did you just come to dine or try a new dish? You need to consider the probability that the dish you wanted will be available. It may happen that when ordering, the waiter will say that the restaurant will not be able to prepare the dish due to a lack of ingredients. You should have taken into account at the beginning that some options are possible, the possibility of making the wrong choice is always present.
The fourth rule is that decisionmaking is always related to clarification. You collect facts, and the more you have, the more data you have to analyze potential solutions. Using the example of the same restaurant, if you do not specify the presence of an ingredient to which you are allergic in the dish, your decision will be unsuccessful.
How to work with the problem
There are various practices, tools, checklists for working with the problem. I use a six step list.
You need to define your problem without evaluative judgments. Second, we create an array of possible options. We write all the solutions that come to mind on paper. Let’s say you’re going on vacation and you’re planning where to go. You have a certain budget and you understand that you will not go to the Maldives. Anyway, put it on the list, visualize it so that it stays with you on paper, then you cross it off, because the next step is the assessment. Here you need to evaluate your costs, risks, opportunities, here are crossed out the options that you should definitely give up. The fourth step is the choice, we will come to this a little later.
The fifth step is to immediately start implementing your decision when you have already made a choice. You don’t need to dwell on this and go into constant selection, searching for new data, because even famous people say: “Decisions must be made very quickly, because you can lose the bird of happiness.” This also needs to be brought up, to be able to quickly make a decision and go to implement it.
After you’ve done all that, you definitely need to go back to what you’re doing and analyze whether you’re on the right path. You have to be flexible, this is also Agile, here you have to see in time that what is being said is wrong. There may be some factors that you did not see at the very beginning, and here you will need to change your direction.
How it looks in practice
I don’t think you’d want to do all six of these steps for some small task, because intuitively we know how and what to do anyway. And with complex problems it is very difficult – we get lost, we don’t know what and how to do, so I suggest using these six steps when solving a global problem.
Here, for example, is an abstract team consisting of Billy, Willy, and Harry, who are our analysts. Let’s say a new manager came to our team, who knows something about them, but not yet so that he can solve the problem on the fly, whom to give the task to, so that the analyst will work with it, understand the subject area and write the technical task.
This young manager asks himself: “To whom should I assign the work?”. Billy is a middle boy, Middle, he has been in the company for a long time. The task they want to analyze is familiar to him, he is immersed in the business field. He is nonconflictual, friendly, but he has a downside — he doesn’t draw diagrams very well, and he has a soso way of setting technical tasks.
Willy is the smartest, has been with the company for a long time, does everything he can, because he is the main burden. He has little time, because he deals with everything in the team, but he does not know this particular business area, he did not deal with it.
Harry is young, ambitious, speaks his mind, causing business customers a little discomfort. He doesn’t care what to do, he has a lot of time, a gamer, a lighter.
We have completed the first step – we need to give someone a task to work, the second – we have three solutions (Billy, Willy and Harry), and now we proceed to the solution itself.
Decision making tools
I suggest the first tool. Cartesian square.
This tool is used to evaluate each decision from four sides. First, motivation is what drives us to do what we do and make that decision. On the right side we have the future, on the left – the present, from above – pluses, from below – minuses. Under the second point, we have what I don’t want to lose, that is, I have something now, but I will lose it if I make a decision. Under the third point, the price of the decision is the negatives of the future, if I do it, I will lose something. The most difficult is the fourth: what prevents, what won’t happen if I don’t do it.
Let’s describe for now billy. In the first column: he knows the business area, he will collect the requirements well, there will be a bad description of the documentation and bad diagrams, but the balance of time between the analysts, because he has time. In the second square: continuation of the choice, Bill will be easy to work with, he will be calm, and another analyst will be able to prove himself. Let’s look at the third square: there will be no conflicts with customers, there will be no good productions. Fourth Square: Bill won’t have a chance to practice schemes and there won’t be an even load of analysts.
As I said, we consider the Descartes square for one solution, such considerations should be made for each of our solutions and we should calculate the pros and cons of each solution. We see that no matter how busy Willy is, as long as he wins, he has nine pluses and only four minuses.
We do not stop there and go further – we evaluate what we wrote in Descartes’ squares. It can be noticed that in some places, the same criteria begin to slip under different decisions, for example, knowledge of the subject area, free time for the task and documentation competencies. When we see such criteria, we can link the first tool with the second.
The second tool is decisionmaking matrix. It is pure mathematics, no emotions are used here, only logic. Horizontally we have solutions, here in the template there are four, but we will have three, vertically we have criteria by which we will make this matrix. There are three ways to work with this matrix: we can put a criterion weight, a criterion score, or use the product of these two methods.
The first method is by weight, I chose common criteria for everyone. Our young manager decided that the documentation competence should be the highest for this task, he is ready to give 30%. It is possible that at some other moment, for another task, the weight of this criterion will not be 30% at all, the main thing is that the sum of all criteria is 100%. There should not be too many criteria, because then it will be difficult for you to evaluate.
The decisionmaking matrix is used only if when solutions are comparable. Let’s say you have an idea to relax, and a trip to the sea in the heat or a trip to the mountains to ski are incomparable. If warmth is the criterion, then the second option will have to be rejected, the weight is so great that it will no longer be necessary to use the decisionmaking matrix.
At the intersection of the criterion and our decision, we put a plus where this criterion most closely matches our option. We bet Willy will win for us so far.
Here is the second option where we use points.
You invent the point system yourself, the main thing is to place this point for each of the options in the criterion that is described. Billy wins here. The third option – in case of multiplication, Willy wins. this option is considered more correct and accurate.
After we have already worked with two tools, we may have some doubt.
Risk map serves to evaluate these doubts and answer three questions: “What will be the end result? What is the probability of occurrence? What is the assessment of the results of the result?”.
Let’s use an example to analyze this tool. We have Willy, he has little free time, we have doubts about whether the task will be completed in time. In time, the probability is small, Willy is endlessly busy with us, and if we give any estimate, we can be wrong, because some factors can arise.
We have the option of a slight delay, it’s likely, or we won’t meet the deadline at all. We suppose we have three options for our doubts. The probability of attack can be described in words, as a percentage or some range. It is necessary to evaluate our results and try to prevent the occurrence of the described. For example, in the first case, we can pick up some statistics or assign some milestones and control the deadline so as not to go beyond the promised period.
Bonus
For those who like not only to make some decisions logically, but also to connect intuition, they can help mmetaphorical andsocial toarts Here is a picture of a poppy, especially so that you remember the abbreviation.
Each person perceives these cards in his own way, and after a while this card can cause completely different emotions in you.
Together
I presented a list of the four tools we analyzed and their areas of application. A Descartes square is needed to evaluate a single decision, a matrix is for pure logic and mathematics, a risk map is for when in doubt, and associative maps are for being aware of your feelings. I derived six postulates from the rules and checklists I wrote about.

Be sure to make your decisions on paper,

Record all, even the most incredible, options

Consider the probability of occurrence – some new factors may appear and fundamentally change your decisions.

Be sure to assess and mitigate the damage,

Make a decision quickly and don’t put it off for later

Be flexible, be able to deviate from the established rules, because they can lead you to the abyss.