Six Step Decision
Making Process

What is it?

The six step decision making process is a rational decision making process. This means that it is based upon thinking about, comparing and evaluating various alternatives. Rational decision making models are typically described as linear, sequential processes.

In other words, there are steps laid out for you to follow. Each step must be completed before you go to the next step. And occasionally it may be necessary to go back several steps to more fully complete them before you go forward again.

There are various 6 step decision making processes described and usually the steps are very similar, only the wording is different.


The steps

  • define the situation and the desired outcome
  • research and identify options
  • compare and contrast each alternative and its consequences
  • make a decision / choose an alternative
  • design and implement an action plan
  • evaluate results


The uses

Six step decision making processes have been utilized extensively in organizations. Traditional ethical decision making models can be incredibly complex. They have been simplified to a six step decision making process so that employees can be empowered to make decisions appropriate to their rank and responsibility.

It is also commonly used in schools to teach children how to make decisions.


The pros

Occasionally, clearly defining a situation and stating the required outcome can go a long way towards improving a situation. It is important regardless of the type of decision making process.

Researching all your options increases the amount of information in the system. This often gives rise to options previously not considered or may even generate options in regard to other unrelated decisions.

It is often considered that complex situations often require complex decision making processes. But is it not often the case that in a complex, chaotic situation, it's the simple solution that works?


The cons

A six step decision making process can become a waste of time and energy and effort if there is too much attention to detail in researching options. If it leads to a delay in decision making, there may be wasted opportunities and missed chances.

Sometimes beliefs and assumptions are mistaken for facts with unwanted consequences.

The search for the best option instead of an effective one may mean even more time wasted, decisions not being made, and lost opportunities.

The emphasis is on cognition, or thinking, and there is little consideration of the individual, or their internal body signals.

Despite the fact that these kind or models are taught extensively, recent research shows that people don't actually make decisions this way. Up to 95% of decisions are done differently!

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