Weighted Decision-Making: A Smart Way to Rational Decisions

Read time —
3 Minutes
Last updated
April 2, 2024

The toughest decisions to make are the either-or ones.

Even worse, you know whichever one you choose, you're stuck with it. Whatever you decide, you've got to live with the outcome. But there is another problem. The options you face both come with positive and negative aspects. Within each choice, there are parts you like and some you don't.

How do you choose?

Balancing the upsides and downsides like this is hard. A simple listing of pros and cons isn't enough. Without weight, any comment in either column is subjective. And in a decision this important, you need to be rational and logical.

So, in this article, we will look at the concept of weighted decision-making.

Let's get into it.

This article covers:

Understanding Weighted Decision-Making

Weighted decision-making assigns weights to decision factors. These weights or values are then used to calculate the best possible outcome.

Before assessing either option, you assign a weight to a set of predefined criteria. Once completed, you then score (out of 100) each factor within your option.

You then formulate this into a table, multiplying your scores by the weights of the criteria. Summing them at the end, the one with the highest score should be the one you select.

This technique creates a more nuanced analysis than a simple pro and con list. It quantifies the importance of each factor in the context of the decision. It removes the subjective viewpoint and replaces it with objective data.

The process challenges you to question the value of each factor.

Weighted Decision Making: An Example

You have two college offers.

Both are good, with lots going for them. You know it's going to be a tough decision choosing between the two.

To help, we are going to use the weighted decision-making model.

Step 1

There are four factors which you concern you about college.

These are:

  • Cost of tuition
  • Quality of education
  • Location
  • Quality of campus life

Now, we assign a weight — a percentage — of how important each one is. Now, your parent's ideal weighting might look like this:

Cost of tuition 40%

Quality of education 30%

Location 20%

Campus life 10%

Your weights might be a bit different.

Step 2

So, you undertake a tour of each.

At the end, you give each criterion a score out of 100. Now, we put them into a table, with a line for each college.

It will look like this:

Weighted Decision-Making Table

In the calculation row, we are multiplying our score out of 100 with the weighted factor. So, for college A, the cost of Tuition carries a weight of 40%. We assessed the cost as 80 out of 100. It wasn't Harvard-level expensive, with the cost being manageable. In this instance, 80 x 40% = 32.

Completing this for each factor, we then sum them giving each college a total score.

In the end, it's close, but college A would be the better choice based on this objective process.

The Upsides to Weighted Decision-Making

A lot of decisions can easily become emotive ones. We want to be rational, but often let opinion and bias influence our choice.

A weighted decision removes the emotion. It forces you to be objective in assessing the factors that matter to you. The great thing about weighted decision-making is it easy to use. When you're faced with an either-or choice, you can quickly focus on the aspects that matter and let the maths decide.

The one remaining point worth making is this. Weighted decision-making is transparent in the results it produces. In some environments, transparency is vital when proving you've decided in a rational way.

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