Common decision analysis errors

Yesterday I highlighted some common mistakes associated with failure to proactively identify and plan your decisions before diving into decision analysis.  Even if you have correctly focused on a high-priority, well-framed decision (successfully answered the “What do we need to decide?” and “How will we decide it?” questions), you can still screw up the Make Decision part of the process.

Here are some common decision analysis defects that I’ve encountered in my travels:

  • Stakeholder requirement missing (not asked for, not captured, no influence on decision)
  • Stakeholder requirement misstated (wrong Must limit/Threshold value) or incorrectly prioritized (wrong weight)
  • Duplicate or causal criteria sway the decision
  • Narrow range of alternatives – tunnel vision
  • Alternatives evaluated using inconsistent criteria or scales
  • Bias for a favorite alternative sways the decision
  • Scoring rationale not captured – scores don’t match best available estimates of performance
  • Promising windfall/opportunity overlooked

There are lots of different flavors of decision analysis techniques, but they all involve understanding and relating the following types of information:

  • Criteria: Stakeholders needs, goals, requirements, or constraints.  These are your definition of success for a specific decision.
  • Alternatives: Possible answers, solutions to the fundamental question posed by the decision
  • Performance estimates: Data used to score the effectiveness of the alternatives against specific criteria
  • Uncertainties: Risks and opportunities

Of course, there is skill involved with asking the right questions and insightfully integrating this data to reach a conclusion.  Clumsy, rote, mechanical or sloppy use of decision analysis can also lead to bad decisions.

Take advantage of the “guiding hand” of the Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF) to avoid common decision analysis errors. Please contact the Decision Driven® Solutions team at or to start your free trial of DDSF.

About decisiondriven

Innovator in Decision Management, Systems Thinking and System Engineering methods and tools
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