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Exploring alternatives in decision-making

Exploring alternatives in decision-making is essential while making any decision.

The decision-making process has three stages identifying, exploring, and executing.

Exploring

The exploring stage, has three steps.

  • Exploring alternatives
  • Thinking consequences
  • Evaluating tradeoffs
Exploring alternatives in decision-making
Exploring alternatives in decision-making

In this article I will discuss the first step.

Exploring alternatives in decision-making

This the most important step in the exploring stage of the decision-making process. It starts with exploring all the alternatives.

All the choices have the same importance at this stage.

Alternatives answer the question of “how”, while objectives answer the questions of “what” and “why”.

This differentiation is essential in decision making.

Exploring alternatives makes us appreciate what we have when we reach a final selection because we did our homework.

You cannot claim superiority of one choice unless you have explored the alternatives.

Alternatives are not just any proposed solution—they are complete solutions, fully comparable, fully specified, and different.

Exploring different job offerings alternatives

For example, you are applying for a new job. The alternatives are three different job offers.

The list of objectives to compare are:

  • Salary
  • Working environment
  • Health insurance benefits
  1. Think about the alternatives and write them all down.
  2. Explore the consequences of each alternative using a decision-making tool. You may use more than one tool to explore the options.
  3. Order the alternatives based on the outcome of your decision-making tools.
  4. For each proposed alternative, ask, “Why is it a good alternative?” If the answer doesn’t appear in the list of objectives, then it could be that a new objective needs to be added. For example, if one job offers the possibility of working from home or covering your travel expenses, those benefits should be added to the list of comparable objectives.
  5. Don’t jump ahead to filtering out alternatives.
  • Be creative and an over-shooter at this stage, as some constraints are just in your mind.

Conclusion

While making decisions we often miss opportunities by missing valuable alternatives. We usually get stuck in narrow frames and constrain ourselves. While it’s usually our mind that restricts our choices. Always widen your options while making any decision.

A. I. Shoukry is the founder of The Decisions Academy and a bestselling author.

Let’s connect on Twitter

@ashoukry

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