School leaders make hundreds, if not thousands of decisions every day. Obviously, some decisions are more important than others.
When it comes to making very significant strategic decisions that are likely to have a big impact on a school, I find Jeff Butler’s 6 Step process very beneficial.
STEP #1 Define the Problem Without Considering the Solution
Many times when scoping the solution to a problem, the problem is not defined accurately enough. As a consequence, solutions that may potentially be better, are not considered. According to Butler, in management, adjusting the scope is called changing the ‘bounds of rationality’. By not starting with the root problem, the decision maker eliminates many possibilities currently unknown to them, essentially their rationality closes in. Simply asking the biggest question of what you are trying to solve, opens up the bounds of rationality allowing better options to surface.
STEP#2 Identify the Important Influencing Factors
In making a good decision it is vital that we identify all of the important factors that influence our decision. By creating a list of all of the factors that influence our decision we are better positioned to make an informed decision.
STEP#3 Identify the Magnitude of the Important Influencing Factors
In the previous step, you identified all of the important influencing factors of your decision. However, some factors are more important than others. Some may in fact be deal breakers. This step involves assigning a weight to each factor. This prioritises the important factors that have the most impact on the outcome of your decision. Butler advises assigning a weight or priority level to each influencing factor.
STEP #4 Finding All Options
Brainstorming a list of all available options is beneficial. However, it is important to follow common brainstorming protocol by getting all ideas on the table and not dismissing any options too soon. Resist the temptation to judge and dismiss the options too early.
STEP #5 Rate Alternatives
Consider each of your alternatives by scoring each option and applying your weighted influencing factors to see which one rates the highest.
STEP #6 Choose the Highest Rate Alternative
Once you have crunched the numbers, whatever rates the highest is your best choice.