Decision Making

Making effective decisions as a manager is a very significant challenge in a fast-moving world. Increasingly managers are expected to act under conditions of uncertainty or limited information, which have a considerable impact at every stage of the decision making process.

As a manager, you will need to apply your skills to select the most appropriate approach for the context you are operating in and the kind of decision you need to make. Usually this will involve finding a balance between the two extremes outlined above. Good decision making skills will enable you to understand what information you will require and how best to use it to inform your decision, as well as helping you to avoid unhelpful or biased assumptions, and recognising the degrees of uncertainty and risk involved and whether these are acceptable in the circumstances. Understanding the implications of your decision, including the impact on departmental and organisational objectives, will help you to avoid costly mistakes and make decisions that add value to your business.

Decision Making Definition

Decision making skills enable a manager to consider alternatives and use judgement to choose an appropriate and timely course of action. The terms ‘decision making’ and ‘problem solving’ are often used interchangeably but are not identical. As the term suggests ‘problem solving’ starts with the identification of a problem or difficulty. The resolution of a problem may require decision making skills, but these are also relevant in other situations - where there is a desire to plan for the future or develop new areas of business, for example.

Decision Making Models and Tools

Below are some of the most effective and ethical decision making models:

  • Kepner and Tregoe's model
  • De Bono’s six thinking hats
  • Tannenbaum and Schmidt leadership continuum
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Force field analysis
  • Deming’s PDCA Cycle “the Deming Wheel”

How to Make a Decision: Decision Making Process Checklist

1. Be clear about the scope of the decision you are faced with
2. Consider the potential impact of the decision and how this will be evaluated
3. Decide who needs to be involved in the decision making process
4. Define the issue to be decided and collect relevant information
5. Take account of uncertainty
6. Gather appropriate contributions
7. Use decision making tools which fit the situation
8. Watch out for biases and common psychological traps
9. Communicate the decision and act on it
10. Monitor and learn from the outcomes

To learn more about decision making and detailed description of the action checklist, view the guide below:

Download the guide  pdf-icon Developing decision making skills

CMI Members

Login to ManagementDirect to access over 200 checklists and many other resources free of charge.

Not a member?

Join today to get free access to ManagementDirect and many other membership benefits.



CMI members benefit from a comprehensive range of products and services for just £105 per year.

✓ Professional recognition via post nominal
Unlimited access to ManagementDirect
✓ Shop discounts (books and event tickets)
✓ Digital and physical copy of Professional Manager magazine
✓ Full access to CMI Management Library
✓ Additional membership benefits

Join Today