Productivity Hacks

The Best Decision Making Models for Effective Leadership

Making sound decisions is a critical leadership capability. With countless decision-making models to consider, how do you know which will drive the best choices for your situation? This comprehensive guide examines seven proven decision-making models, when to use each one, and how services like Supernormal can organize decision-making processes. Read on to learn frameworks that will lead you to effective decisions.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is a classic framework to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to a decision:

  • Strengths: Internal positives that support the decision
  • Weaknesses: Internal negatives or barriers to success
  • Opportunities: External factors that favor the decision
  • Threats: External forces that could derail the decision

Conducting a SWOT analysis provides a 360-degree view of the strategic insights needed to make informed decisions aligned with organizational capabilities and the external environment. However, it requires time and research.

The Rubicon Model

The Rubicon model outlines the key phases of committing to and acting on decisive choices:

  • Problem identification: Recognize an issue or opportunity requiring a decision.
  • Information gathering: Collect relevant data to inform the decision.
  • Option generation: Develop potential alternative solutions.
  • Deliberation and evaluation: Weigh the pros and cons of options.
  • Choice: Select the best course of action based on deliberations.
  • Implementation: Take steps to execute the decision.
  • Outcomes: Evaluate results and learnings.

This model provides a linear roadmap from problem to solution. But decision-makers may iterate back through phases as new information emerges.


PrOACT is an acronym for a five-step decision-making process:

  • Problem: Clearly define the specific decision required.
  • Objectives: Determine desired outcomes and success metrics.
  • Alternatives: Identify different potential solutions.
  • Consequences: Analyze the pros and cons of each alternative.
  • Trade-offs: Make necessary compromises between alternatives to reach a final decision.

This simplified framework works for daily operational decisions. But it lacks ways to generate and evaluate alternatives.

Six Thinking Hats

Proposed by Edward de Bono, Six Thinking Hats assigns perspectives to consider:

  • White hat: Objective facts and figures
  • Red hat: Emotions, intuition and passion
  • Black hat: Risks, cautions and obstacles
  • Yellow hat: Optimism, benefits and value
  • Green hat: Creativity, growth and alternatives
  • Blue hat: Big picture thinking, process control

This approach gets diverse insights while minimizing conflict. But it takes time and can seem restrictive.

Decision Matrix

A decision matrix evaluates options against weighted criteria:

  • List options down the left column.
  • Define criteria across the top row.
  • Weight criteria by importance.
  • Score each option on each criteria.
  • Multiply scores by weights.
  • Sum scores to get totals and final rankings.

This quantitative approach reduces subjectivity. However, criteria must be comprehensive and accurately weighted.

Pro/Con Analysis

Pro/con analysis lists out the advantages and disadvantages of each option:

  • Record all alternatives.
  • Note the pros of each option.
  • Note the cons of each option.
  • Review and compare pros/cons lists holistically to decide.

Though simple, this framework can overlook important criteria. It works best for low-stakes decisions with clear up/downsides.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

Cost/benefit analysis quantifies the value of each option:

  • Identify all costs associated with each alternative.
  • Identify all benefits of each alternative.
  • Convert costs and benefits to monetary values.
  • Compare ratios to determine which option provides the greatest value.

While data driven, subjective estimates of value required. Also time intensive. Best for major financial decisions.

Supernormal Keeps Teams Aligned

Tools like Supernormal keep everyone updated on choices made using decision models. Supernormal's AI meeting notes highlight key decisions, rationales, and action items so all decisions are documented and everyone stays on the same page even as things are changing.

Making great decisions is a complex yet masterable skill. By understanding a variety of proven decision-making models and incorporating Supernormal, leaders can select the right approach for each unique situation and keep everyone aligned along the way.

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