How You Make A Decision:
When you make a decision, whether you realize it or not, you go through four distinct phases:
a. Intelligence: (find what to fix)
Find or recognize a problem, need, or opportunity (also called the diagnostic phase of decision making). The intelligence phase involves detecting and interpreting signs that indicate a situation which needs your attention. These "signs" can come in many forms:
Consistent customer requests for new-product features
The threat of new competition
An offer from a company to handle your distribution needs, and so on
b. Design: (find fixes)
Consider possible ways of solving the problem, filling the need, or taking advantage of the opportunity. In this phase, you develop all the possible solutions you can.
c. Choice: (pick a fix)
Examine and weigh the merits of each solution, estimate the consequences of each, and choose the best one. The "best" solution may depend on such factors as:
This is the prescriptive phase of decision making; it's the stage at which a course of action is prescribed.
d. Implementation: (apply the fix)
Carry out the chosen solution, monitor the results, and make adjustments as necessary. Simply implementing a solution is seldom enough. Your chosen solution will always need fine-tuning, especially for complex problems or changing environments.
These four phases are not necessarily linear; you'll often find it useful or necessary to cycle back to an earlier phase. When choosing an alternative in the choice phase, for example, you might become aware of another possible solution. Then you would go back to the design phase, include the newly found solution, return to the choice phase, and compare the new solution to the others you generated.