What is a weighted decision matrix?
A Weighted Decision Matrix is a very straightforward tool designed to help decide between a number of options by measuring them against a set of criteria. E.g. the question "what shall I eat for tea" is broken down into the multiple criteria that must be considered (e.g. Taste, Nutrition and Preparation time). Those criteria are then weighted in order of importance so that the most important criteria have the most influence on the result obtained. The potential options (e.g. Chips, Wrap, Pasta or Beans) are all scored against the criteria being used and the weighted decision matrix will then calculate a score by multiplying the score per option by the weighting. A decision is reached which will rank the options in order of importance. The weighted decision matrix was invented by Stuart Pugh.
When to use a Weighted Decision Matrix?
Some decisions are straightforward but some are much more difficult because several factors must be considered. Do I watch the James Bond film or the Jason Bourne film is a simple question to answer and I can't think of anyone who would need a weighted decision matrix to do that but what if you're deciding an issue or problem that is much more complex? For example, you need to buy a new car or which wedding reception venue to book? Suddenly there are lots of factors to consider and the weighted decision matrix comes into its own. With the car for example, the purchaser has to consider cost, MPG, 0-60, boot space etc etc. The weighted decision matrix allows them to weight all of those factors by importance so that a decision can be made based on the most important factors. Giving each of the criteria a value strips out some of the emotion involved because you are being honest with yourself about what really matters and if feeling emotional about it is important then that can in itself can become one of the factors! Money is tight so MPG and the initial cost will have far higher weightings than boot space for example. This way the decision becomes objective and less subjective.
How to use a Weighted Decision Matrix?
So how do you get started? The weighted decision matrix will cope with many different scenarios and the one thing each has in common is that you already have a shortlist of options. Holiday destinations for example. You can build a matrix as a group if more than one person is involved and that way with you all looking at the screen you can decide on the factors involved and then debate the scores. All angles are then covered. You should build the decision matrix in a table on a spreadsheet and here are the steps you need to take:
1. Choose the question to answer and write it down. If you don't then you risk not being clear on the outcome you want to achieve
2. Now you need to decide on the factors involved in the decision being made. Think Who, When, Why, What and How to get you started. E.g. How much will it cost? List these in a column.
3. Now you need to weight the factors you settled on in step 2. Do this in column two. You should give the most important factor a value of 5 and the least important a value of 1. By doing this you are strict about what's important and what isn't so much. If you can't decide on the order it is okay to give two factors a weighting that is the same but that kind of misses the point
4. You know what your options are and you need to put them in a row so as you complete a table
5. The final step is to score all of your options. Be consistent in your scoring, always mark out of 5 or 10. You need to set up a formula to calculate your score x the weighting. Total these up and you have a result.
The matrix should look like this:
The weaknesses of a Weighted Decision Matrix
People are ineffective at assessing risk and so they do not get the weightings right in the first place. It is an emotional process and objective data is often ignored.
People in a group will often disagree on the weightings to be given. For example "cost" would be a very important criteria for someone out of work but irrelevant to a millionaire.
This decision making technique is highly effective especially for group decisions. If you need to make up your mind then discover Mark's powerful, interactive online weighted decision matrix templates and tools at the home of the Weighted Decision Matrix.