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How to use the grid technique for decision making

Here's A decision tree is a way to document the different possibilities when making a decision

If you’re a decision maker looking for the right tool, the grid technique may be for you.

Using it not only helps you decide, it automatically documents the process. If you ever need to explain your decision, everything you need will be in place.

Here’s the best part: all you need is either a blank spreadsheet or a piece of paper.

No apps, no templates, no programs. Use what you have on-hand and follow the steps, below.

Let’s jump into the process

A friend of mine, Scott, will soon be laid off from his job. He’s been looking for work, of course. In fact, he already has a number of offers on the table.

Here are the details

The offers are a mixed bag. Some require an out-of-state move. Some are higher paying, others offer a higher level of security.

As we started to talk, I grabbed a piece of paper and began to lay out a grid. Scott said that there was no need to do so because he already had everything in his head.

I had to call BS on that statement.

As some point, the amount of information we try to hold in our head becomes overwhelming. There’s no good reason to make an important decision with the unnecessary stress of information overload.

Laying out the decision making grid

The factors for comparison became the top line across the grid, and the jobs themselves became the rows. Scott renamed my columns and we ended up with Position, Desire, Outlook, Pay, Term (length) and location.

Position Desire Outlook Pay Term Location
Planning Low Boring 57k 3 yr
Desktop Hi Great Location 60k long Utah
Asset Mgr Travel long Local

The point is this

You can only hold and process so much information in your head at one time. In the table, above, there are already eighteen pieces of information to hold in your head. And most decisions are much more complicated than that.

Bringing it home

When faced with an important decision with more than a few options or factors, grab a piece of paper and lay out a grid.

Doing so will allow you to compare factors one against another in a straight forward and easy to understand way.

Using this technique, you’ll save time, objectify your thinking and allow yourself able to make the right decision.


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Article by Mike Turco.
Contact: mike (at) miketurco.com
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