101 Decision-Making Examples

decision-making skills, explained below

Sound decision-making skills are crucial for achieving outcomes and goals successfully.

A person who is good at astute decision-making integrates a range of skills into their thought processes, including anticipating consequences, comparing and contrasting options, and utilizing logical reasoning.

By recognizing the various steps, processes, and implications involved in decision-making, you can better prepare for the marked impact of your decisions within your personal, professional, and societal spheres (Bikart, 2019; Kay & King, 2020).

Decision-Making Examples

1. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a rational judgment.

Critical thinking is more than gathering information—it involves interpreting it, making vital connections, and approaching things skeptically. It is used extensively in the decision-making process.

The skill helps to keep emotional responses at bay and focuses on empiric data, leading to more thorough, well-considered decisions. One vital aspect of critical thinking in decision-making is the evaluation of alternate solutions and outcomes.

It’s crucial to recognize that critical thinking involves skepticism, self-regulation, and open-mindedness. Be prepared for the unexpected and ready to reevaluate if the situation changes.

Critical Thinking Example: In a leadership role, you might need to decide the efficiency of two competing marketing strategies. Through critical thinking, you’d evaluate the tactics’ potential benefits, risks, costs, and the likely reactions of your target audience.

2. Logic and Reasoning

Logic and reasoning are the abilities to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas.

Logic and reasoning play a significant role in how decisions are made. They encompass organized thinking, using principles of sound reasoning, organizing, and categorizing.

When making a decision, it’s critical that you use logic and reasoning to interpret the information at hand. It helps determine the optimal solution that is most likely to yield successful results.

It’s important to recognize though, logic and reasoning are not infallible. They require an accurate understanding and representation of relevant information. Misrepresentations often lead to unsound conclusions.

Logical Reasoning Example: When deciding on the best route for a road trip, you’d use logic and reasoning to map out the quickest route, consider the cost of fuel, and ponder potential traffic implications in the route choice.

3. Prioritization

Prioritization is the process of determining the order in which tasks should be performed based on their urgency or importance.

Prioritization plays a crucial role in decision-making by helping to identify which tasks or options need attention first. It’s about understanding the potential impact, importance, and urgency of each item on your list.

By consistently employing prioritization in your decision-making process, you can focus your efforts on the things that truly matter. This skill, in turn, paints a clearer picture of what warrants immediate focus and what can follow later.

Just remember, prioritization involves acknowledging trade-offs. Not everything can be actioned immediately or concurrently, and deep understanding of the importance of each task is needed. Remember, importance often holds more weight than urgency.

Prioritization Example: In managing a project, you might need to decide between meeting a tight deadline for one task or delivering a high-quality result for another. Prioritization would guide you in deciding which action aligns better with the project’s overall goals.

4. Forecasting

Forecasting involves predicting or estimating future trends, behaviors, or events based on the analysis of current and historical data.

Forecasting assists in decision-making by providing estimations of outcomes based on available data. Whether it’s predicting future sales or assessing the potential impact of policy changes, forecasting provides valuable insights to guide decision-making.

Incorporating forecasting into your decision-making process allows you to assess expected outcomes, which can guide your strategies towards desired objectives. These assesments enable you to grasp the potential results and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Keep in mind, forecasting is speculative in nature. While it often relies on data, it’s not foolproof due to the unpredictability of many factors. An understanding of this limitation is important when using forecasting in decision-making.

Forecasting Example: In stock investment, forecasting could help you decide which stocks to hold, buy, or sell by considering historical trends and market performance.

5. SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the positives and negatives inside and outside of a project or business.

SWOT analysis provides a structured approach to evaluating both internal and external factors when making decisions. By examining the strengths and weaknesses in relation to opportunities and threats, you can strategize effectively.

In the process of decision-making, employing SWOT analysis gives you a detailed and objective view of where you stand. This can guide you towards strategies that align with your strengths and opportunities while mitigating weaknesses and threats.

Remember, a crucial aspect of SWOT analysis is its objective self-evaluation. Understanding your environments and capabilities promotes holistic and well-informed decision-making.

SWOT Analysis Example: When deciding to launch a new product, a company would conduct a SWOT analysis to evaluate the product’s potential in the market. This might include considering the company’s experience in production (strength), limited marketing channels (weakness), untapped user segments (opportunity), and stiff competition (threat).

6. Cost-Benefit Analysis

Cost-benefit analysis is a systematic approach to compare the advantages and disadvantages of different decisions, commonly in monetary terms.

In the realm of decision-making, cost-benefit analysis provides a quantifiable method to evaluate trade-offs. It compares the projected financial cost of an action or decision against the anticipated benefits.

Employing cost-benefit analysis in your decision-making process can present a clear view of potential financial implications. It helps ensure that your decisions align with financial viability and sustainability in the long run.

Remember, cost-benefit analysis focuses heavily on financial costs and benefits. However, not every decision purely rests on monetary factors. Integrating non-monetary factors can provide a more comprehensive decision-making analysis.

Cost-Benefit Analysis Example: When deciding to implement a new software system in a company, cost-benefit analysis would factor in the upfront and maintenance costs against the expected efficiency gains and potential revenue increase.

7. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking involves making plans for the future considering the broader picture, long-term goals and implications.

Strategic thinking is pivotal for effective decision-making, particularly when looking at long-term goals. It’s not about reacting to the immediate situation but rather thinking ahead, considering the wider implications and long-term objectives.

In the decision-making process, strategic thinking allows you to align your decisions with your broader vision. Every choice made has either an immediate or eventual impact on goals, therefore understanding this connection is essential.

It’s important to note that strategic thinking is not about perfection, but progress. It’s a planning process that, while important, must also allow for flexibility and adaptation to change over time.

Strategic Thinking Example: When deciding regarding business expansion, strategic thinking could guide you to explore new markets aligned with the long-term vision of becoming a global leader in your industry.

8. Open-Mindedness

Open-mindedness is the willingness to consider new and diverse concepts, perspectives, and possibilities.

Open-mindedness in decision-making is crucial for considering a wide range of potential solutions. It enables you to look beyond your immediate perspective and consider different angles, thus broadening the scope of possible solutions.

By practicing open-mindedness when making decisions, you avoid the traps of bias and preconceptions and enable more creative, inclusive solutions. Remember, diverse perspectives often result in the most innovative solutions.

Maintaining open-mindedness doesn’t mean indiscriminately accepting all ideas. Instead, it’s about considering diverse perspectives and evaluating their merit before reaching a conclusion.

Open-Mindedness Example: Before deciding on a solution, I’ll actively seek and consider multiple perspectives to ensure I haven’t overlooked any valuable insights.

9. Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning, also known as deductive logic, is a reasoning method that draws specific conclusions based on general principles or premises.

Broadly speaking, deductive reasoning is a top-down reasoning method used in decision-making. You start with accepted general principles or premises and then drill down to reach more specific conclusions.

In your decision-making process, deductive reasoning can help by allowing the application of general rules or principles to specific situations. It provides clear, definitive results as long as the initial premises are accurate.

However, be mindful that the effectiveness of deductive reasoning significantly relies on the validity of its initial premises. Inaccurate or faulty premises can lead to incorrect conclusions.

Deductive Reasoning Example: If all products from Brand X have proven to be durable in the past, and this is a product from Brand X, I’ll decide to purchase it expecting it to be durable as well.

10. Abstraction

Abstraction involves distancing oneself from the specifics or details and considering only the essential elements or patterns to simplify complex problems or concepts.

Abstraction plays a crucial role in decision-making by allowing you to remove unnecessary details and focus on the problem’s core aspects. In essence, it enables you to see the ‘bigger picture’, thereby simplifying complex scenarios.

By employing abstraction in your decision-making process, you can filter out the noise of non-essential details, creating a clearer vision of the objectives you need to focus on.

Keep in mind that while abstraction is a powerful tool for distilling complex problems, it could potentially lead to overlooking important details or nuances. Balance is key.

Abstraction Example: When deciding whether to start a new business venture, you could use abstraction to focus on the essential elements such as the demand for your product or service and the strength of competition, instead of getting lost in details like office location or website design.

Full List

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Problem analysis
  3. Logic and reasoning
  4. Information gathering
  5. Data analysis
  6. Risk assessment
  7. Emotional intelligence
  8. Intuition
  9. Prioritization
  10. Skepticism
  11. Forecasting
  12. SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  13. Goal setting
  14. Vision casting
  15. Brainstorming
  16. Mind mapping
  17. Pro-con lists
  18. Group decision-making
  19. Collaborative consensus
  20. Mediation
  21. Negotiation
  22. Listening skills
  23. Feedback consideration
  24. Perspective seeking
  25. Scenario planning
  26. Contingency planning
  27. Cost-benefit analysis
  28. Outcome visualization
  29. Decision trees
  30. Root cause analysis
  31. Pareto analysis
  32. Cross-functional collaboration
  33. Ethical considerations
  34. Cultural awareness
  1. Stakeholder consultation
  2. Bias identification
  3. Divergent thinking
  4. Convergent thinking
  5. Hypothesis testing
  6. Heuristic evaluations
  7. Impact assessment
  8. Influence mapping
  9. Resource allocation
  10. Sensitivity analysis
  11. Decision matrices
  12. Simulation and modeling
  13. Exploratory research
  14. Role-playing
  15. Conflict resolution
  16. Delegation
  17. Iterative decision-making
  18. Rapid prototyping
  19. Trial and error
  20. Scenario simulation
  21. Anchoring avoidance
  22. Sunk cost fallacy awareness
  23. Confirmation bias mitigation
  24. Status quo challenge
  25. Long-term thinking
  26. Short-term implications
  27. Pattern recognition
  28. Benchmarking
  29. Gap analysis
  30. Expert consultation
  31. Multiple alternatives consideration
  32. Feedback loops
  33. External validation
  34. Systematic review
  1. Delphi method
  2. Sequential decision-making
  3. Parallel decision-making
  4. Decision journaling
  5. Timeboxing decisions
  6. Agile methodologies
  7. MVP (Minimum Viable Product) approach
  8. Post-decision evaluation
  9. Accountability practices
  10. Open-mindedness
  11. Scenario ranking
  12. Weighted scoring systems
  13. Cognitive reframing
  14. Opportunity cost assessment
  15. Reflective practice
  16. Adaptive strategies
  17. Self-awareness
  18. Tolerance for ambiguity
  19. Moral reasoning
  20. Contextual awareness
  21. Transferable lessons
  22. Probabilistic reasoning
  23. Environmental scanning
  24. Iterative feedback
  25. Predictive analytics
  26. Force field analysis
  27. Fishbone diagrams
  28. Strategic Thinking
  29. Decision reversal consideration
  30. Exit strategy planning
  31. Creative thinking
  32. Dependency evaluation
  33. Meditation and mindfulness (for clarity)

Decision-Making Models Models

Various models have attempted to describe the decision-making process, such as rational decision-making models, intuitive decision models, and even combinatorial and judgmental decision-making models (Simon, 1955).

Each model is outlined below:

1. Rational Decision-Making Model

The rational decision-making model proposes that decision-making follows a logical and linear process. Here, a problem is analyzed thoroughly, potential solutions are explored, and the best decision is selected based on a careful evaluation of all options (Rizun & Taranenko, 2014; Uzonwanne, 2016).

This model has been used in various fields from business management to public policy (Rizun & Taranenko, 2014).

Under the Rational Decision-Making Model, you might encounter a situation where you’re facing a problem. After careful deliberation, you’ll come up with a series of possible approaches to solve it. You will then evaluate each of these against each other and select the one that aligns best with your goals and objectives. Thus, the logic in this model is completely linear: from problem identification to solution implementation (Uzonwanne, 2016).

2. Intuitive Decision-Making Model

Intuitive decision-making emphasizes the role of unconscious, instinctive, and immediate decisions. It suggests that natural intuition or a ‘gut feeling’ can lead to effective decision-making.

While not as structured or quantifiable, many agree that this model plays a pivotal role in quick decision-making scenarios (Collins, Collins & Carson, 2016).

Imagine a case under the Intuitive Decision-Making Model where you don’t have all the information, or perhaps there’s no time for analyzing data. By relying on your intuition or ‘gut feeling’, you can quickly form a decision that may be as good, or even better, than one that would have taken longer to make using the other models. Essentially, it’s decision-making instinctively and instantaneously (Sinclair et al., 2016).

3. Combinatorial Decision-Making Model

The combinatorial decision-making model focuses on combining and integrating distinct parts of information to make an effective decision.

Multiple factors such as scientific research, available data, human sentiment, and previous experiences are merged to form a unique comprehensive decision-making strategy (Memari et al., 2023).

Under the Combinatorial Decision-Making Model, you might find yourself making decisions that require blending elements from various data sources. This might include scientific research, available data, human sentiment and previous experiences to form a holistic, unique, and comprehensive strategy. It calls for an integrative thought process to take into consideration these varied factors (Memari et al., 2023).

4. Judgmental Decision-Making Model

The judgmental decision-making model is rooted in psychology. It sheds light on how biases, heuristics, and cognitive processes impact decision-making.

It considers decision-making to be a heuristic process, often influenced by cognitive biases and social factors (Holmes et al., 2013).

The Judgmental Decision-Making Model can be applied in a scenario where your decision-making could be influenced by your subconscious biases and heuristics.

For example, you might make a decision purely based on a past similar situation, neglecting other potential solutions. The model emphasizes the reflective nature of decision-making along with the psychological aspects such as cognitive bias and social components (Holmes et al., 2013).


Fecision-making plays an integral role in every aspect of life. Whether deciding on personal matters or making strategic organizational decisions, your ability to make sound decisions can significantly impact outcomes. Various skills, tools, and frameworks, such as critical thinking, strategic thinking, and cost-benefit analysis, prove invaluable in aiding decision-making.

Each of these resources provides unique value: framing the decision, evaluating possible paths, and anticipating potential consequences. Embracing a comprehensive decision-making technique enables you to navigate complexities confidently, ultimately leading to more successful and fulfilling results.


Bikart, J. (2019). The Art of Decision Making: How We Move from Indecision to Smart Choices. Watkins Media.

Collins, D., Collins, L., & Carson, H. J. (2016). “If it feels right, do it”: Intuitive decision making in a sample of high-level sport coaches. Frontiers in psychology7, 504.

Holmes, R. M., Holcomb, T. R., Klein, P. G., & Ireland, R. D. (2013). A judgmental decision-making approach to entrepreneurship: Toward a behavioral model. Working paper, College of Business, Florida State University.

Kay, J., & King, M. (2020). Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers. W. W. Norton.

Memari, P., Mohammadi, S. S., Jolai, F., & Ghaderi, S. F. (2023). Sustainability assessment of renewable energy site location using a combinatorial decision-making model under uncertainty and data reliability. International Journal of Systems Science: Operations & Logistics10(1), 2121624.

Rizun, N., & Taranenko, Y. (2014). Simulation models of human decision-making processes. Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy2(2), 241-264.

Sinclair, M., Ashkanasy, N. M., Chattopadhyay, P., & Boyle, M. V. (2016). Determinants of intuitive decision making in management: The moderating role of affect. In Managing emotions in the workplace (pp. 143-163). Routledge.

Uzonwanne, F. C. (2016). Rational model of decision making. Global encyclopedia of public administration, public policy, and governance. Springer International. https:/doi. org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_2474-1.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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