I would like to demonstrate a technique I occasionally use to help me make a decision. I call it the “decision matrix”.
In our sample case, Joe needs to decide between 3 job alternatives:
- Join ABC Consulting and become a consultant. This is a top paying position with a high demand for overtime.
- Become a freelancer. This alternative lets Joe be free and flexible, but he would have zero income in periods he can’t find a contract.
- Join XYZ Merchandise and become a co-worker. This is a relatively easy job with a fixed schedule and medium income.
Let’s implement the decision matrix for Joe and help him decide.
First, Joe needs to write down his interests. Those are the direct or indirect things affected by his job decision.
Let’s break them down to understand Joe better:
- Money: Self-explaining.
- Time for hobbies: Joe is the sax player of a local band. He treasures his free time to study, rehearse and play live.
- Big brand: Joe thinks that working for a big brand is important for his CV.
- Self development: Joe expects his position to help him advance further in his profession by providing new learning opportunities.
- Close to home: Joe hates traffic and it’s important for him to minimize the time lost in the car.
- Ethic: Joe wouldn’t want to join a company ignorant of the environment.
Now it’s time to determine how important each interest is. For this purpose, Joe will have to assign a weight point between 1-5 to each interest. He will also mark the “show stopper” interests.
In this example, Joe marked “Ethic” as “show stopper”. This means; if a company performs poorly in terms of ethics, Joe will eliminate that alternative directly.
It’s time for Joe to put the job offers into the table. For each alternative, he will assign two columns – you’ll see why soon enough.
In this step, Joe will give points to each job offer; depending on how good they fulfill his interest.
The significant points are;
- The consulting position (Job 1) has no ethical flaws and pays good, so it gets 5 points for “Money” and “Ethic”. However; due to the high demand for overtime, it would limit his musical schedule; so it gets 2 points for “Time for hobbies”.
- Being a freelancer (Job 2) also has no ethical flaws and he can make his own schedule, so it gets 5 points for “Time for hobbies” and “Ethic”. However; working for himself is not exactly a “Big brand”, so that interest gets only 1 point.
- Being a co-worker (Job 3) has mediocre points for each interest.
None of the positions has low points on “Ethic”, so Joe doesn’t have to eliminate any alternative at this time.
In this step, Joe will multiply the points of each job with its corresponding weight.
If we sum up the weighted points, we see the interest fulfillment power of each alternative.
The table above shows that working as a consultant (Job 1: 80 points) quantitatively fulfills Joe’s interests the best; while being a freelancer (Job 2: 76 points) is a close second. However, becoming a co-worker (Job 3: 62 points) doesn’t seem to be a satisfying alternative.
The decision matrix is a helpful decision making tool, which quantitatively reflects the interest fulfillment rate of each alternative. You can re-use the table of Joe for any decision.
However; no decision should be made with the mind only. We can’t see the future and what the alternatives would bring, so logic alone might not be enough. Ideally; logic, intuition and emotions should be balanced to make a decision.
This tool merely helps to clear up the logic part.