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Decision Making

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Many different decision making models are in use today, with most sharing at least the stages of identification, decision, and post-evaluation. One decision-making model which provides a clear and precise framework within which to make decisions is the Kepner-Tregoe Matrix, a system intended to "help maximize critical thinking skills, systematically organize and prioritize information, set objectives, evaluate alternatives, and analyze impact." 1. There are technically eight steps in employing the Kepner-Tregoe Matrix, but the process can be winnowed down and summarized in four steps:

1. Situation Appraisal

2. Problem Analysis

3. Decision Analysis

4. Potential Problem Analysis

The Kepner-Tregoe Matrix was built on the premise that people can be taught to think critically. Dr. Charles Kepner and Dr. Benjamin Tregoe conducted research for the Rand Corporation in the 1950's, exploring breakdowns in Strategic Air Command decision making. Drs. Kepner and Tregoe found that successful decision making by Air Force officers had less to do with rank or career path than an officer's ability to logically collect, organize, and assess information before taking action. Kepner-Tregoe analysis is intended to assist with unbiased decision-making. As a structured methodology for identifying and ranking all factors critical to the decision, the process is used chiefly because it limits biases (both conscious and unconscious) that tend to derail a decision away from its primary objectives. Kepner-Tregoe users can comprehensively evaluate alternative courses of action to optimize the ultimate results based on explicit objectives. The system could potentially be applied to virtually any decision-making process ranging from marketing services and products to buying a home.

In evaluating a recent job change, I utilized the eight steps of the matrix to aid me in making my decision. First, I prepared a primary action/result decision statement with the action of leaving my employer with the result of career advancement. I then identified strategic requirements ("must-haves") such as salary and managerial responsibility, operational objectives (wants) such as hiring/team-assembly initiative and potential for promotion, and restraints (limits) such as a potential employer's physical location and the commute involved. Thirdly, I ranked my objectives and assigned relative weights, determining the importance of responsibility load, title, team size, and other factors. I condensed and streamlined steps four through six in listing potential positions, assigning a 1-10 rating of importance on an objective-by-objective basis for each alternative and a 1-10 rating of how well each alternative satisfied each objective. I calculated the relative score for each alternative, thereby identifying my top 3 employment options and discarding unviable plans of action. I then assessed adverse consequences for each of the alternatives available to me, which included facing long hours and questionable



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