Decision making - 5 W&H

Decision making is one of the most essential skills in life. Regardless if you are a trainer, top manager, entrepreneur, learner, etc. , you're a decision-maker every single day

Competences addressed/ learning outcomes expand_more

After completing this Learning resource participants will be able to:  
—  To understand the importance of systemic approach of decision making
—  To be able to apply the acquired decision-making techniques
—  To be able to make more effective decisions
—  To understand the 5 W&H group reflection technique and how it can be used with foreign born women


The objectives of this learning resource can be summarised as below:
—   To become aware of the decision-making techniques
—   To understand the Paired comparison analysis
—   To become aware of the use of the Decision matrix analysis
—   To find out what Decision trees are
—   To find out about the De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

Theoretical background expand_more

Decision making is one of the most essential skills in life. Regardless if you are a trainer, top manager, entrepreneur, learner, etc. , you're a decision-maker every single day. 

From the moment you wake up, you start making decisions. You decide what to eat for breakfast, what to wear, and whether to spend 15 minutes on a workout, meditation, or extra sleep. These decisions, large and small, continue all day long. 
Some decisions are simple. You make them with barely a thought.
Other decisions should be more intentional.
The average adult makes 35,000 conscious decisions a day. For those in management positions, the number might be even higher.
Whether they are deciding which person to choose to hire, which supplier to contract, or which strategy to implement in their company, the ability to make a good decision is vital for entrepreneurs.

The process of decision making includes: 

- generating and evaluating alternatives before making a decision or taking action, 
- considering the risks associated with each option and selecting the option that has the best balance of risk and benefit,
- encouraging input from others when it is needed, 
- standing by decisions without reconsidering unless information or circumstances make it necessary to do so, and 
- evaluating the effectiveness of decisions after they have been made.

When making a decision that involves complex issues like the above mentioned, you need to have your decision-making skills strengthened.
Furthermore, decision making also relies on a thorough knowledge of a variety of techniques and processes. Depending on the type and the complexity level of the problem to be addressed managers can choose from a variety of decision-making techniques in order to choose the most optimal solution.

Paired comparison analysis
This technique is useful for weighing up the relative importance of different options. It is most helpful where priorities aren't clear, where the options are completely different, where evaluation criteria are subjective, or where they're competing in importance. Paired comparison analysis provides a framework for comparing each option against all others, and helps to show the difference in importance between factors.
Decision Matrix Analysis
Use this technique to decide between several options, where you need to take many different factors into account.
Decision Tree
This is the technique which clearly lays out the problem so that all options can be challenged.  It allows us to analyze fully the possible consequences of a decision and provides a framework to quantify the values of outcomes and the probabilities of achieving them. In the same time, helps to make the best decisions based on existing information and best guesses.
De Bono's Six Thinking Hats
It is the technique for looking at a problem from different points of view, which allows emotion and scepticism to be brought into what might normally be a purely rational process, and it opens up the opportunity for creativity within decision making.

It can help to avoid possible pitfalls before being committed to a decision.

Step-by-step implementation expand_more

After finding out in general what decision making entails, you should concentrate on some practical applications in order to make sure that you’ll remember the essence and that you choose the best option possible in various situations.

In real-life business situations, decisions can often fail because the best alternatives are not clear at the beginning, or key factors are not considered as part of the process. To avoid this, decision-making strategies need to be used. A structured process can help in addressing all critical elements needed for a successful outcome.

Working through this process systematically (step by step) will reduce the likelihood of overlooking important factors. 
For this purpose, use the 5W&Hs design thinking technique to think through the steps involved more thoroughly.

Make sure to have 6 pairs/small groups among your learners. Ask them to think about a problem they would like to solve in their close community.  In this process, they will be needed to make some decisions. 

But what are the 5Ws and 1H Questions?
The elements included in the 5W1H method allows for a comprehensive analysis of the presented situation and enables you to spot opportunities for improvement. Answering the 5Ws and 1H questions, and being as detailed as possible, helps identify potential solutions that could be implemented and observed for their effectiveness.

The questions can be placed in different order but you should ensure that the following 5Ws and 1H questions are included: What, Where, Who, Why, When, and How.

To reach better results, combine the 5W&H technique with the below six steps of decision making.
Prepare in advance a Kahoot, or handouts with the below six steps. Provide learners with the definition of the 5W&H technique, and remind them that they will need to answer the What, Where, Who, Why, When, and How questions related to the problem and also in relation to the steps involved. 
Emphasise that this process is a must while starting an entrepreneurial business and that it is essential to follow them. Ask them to brainstorm about their identified problem and put them to answer the above questions.
Remind them that the decision making process involves six steps which need to be considered and followed. Within the created small groups encourage your learners to write down what would require each step from their identified problems’ point of view. 

Step 1 - Identify problems
The first step in the decision-making process is to recognize that there is a decision to be made. Decisions are not made arbitrarily; they result from an attempt to address a specific problem, need or opportunity.
Step 2 - Seek information to understand the situation in detail
Entrepreneurs act as managers and oversee the launch and growth of an enterprise. They seek out a range of information to clarify their options once they have identified an issue that requires a decision. Managers may seek to determine potential causes of a problem, the people and processes involved in the issue and any constraints placed on the decision-making process.
Step 3 - Generate good alternatives
Having a more complete understanding of the issue at hand, managers/entrepreneurs move on to make a list of potential solutions. This step can involve anything from a few seconds of thought to a few months or more of formal collaborative planning, depending on the nature of the decision.
The wider the explored options, the better the final decision is likely to be.
Step 4 - Evaluate alternatives and choose the best one
Managers/entrepreneurs weigh the pros and cons of each potential solution, seek additional information if needed and select the option they feel has the best chance of success at the least cost.
Step 5 - Implement the Plan
The decision taken should be converted into a plan or a sequence of activities and implemented.
Step 6 - Evaluate Outcomes
Even the most experienced business owners can learn from their mistakes. The results of strategic decisions should always be monitored. Adaptation of the plan should be done if necessary, or another potential solution should be chosen if the first one does not work out as expected.
After finishing, ask the groups to select one person who will present the group’s work to the others. 
Make sure to have the arising questions answered and clarified. 

Make sure you take a look to the related contents to this material, that is:
Active listening
Team building and conflict resolution 
Critical thinking skills

Time needed and group sizeexpand_more

TIME: 2 hours (30 minutes for exercise about the 5W&H technique working in groups and 20 minutes for the presentation of the findings of the groups)
GROUP: 15-20 learners that can be separated into groups of 4-5 (for more efficient work and experience change at the end of the activity)

Materials needed for implementationexpand_more

Computer to show links and videos.
Handouts/Kahoot prepared in advance about the decision making techniques and 6 steps.

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