What Is a Decision Model?

G. Wiesen

A decision model is a visual aid used to help one or more people in considering a problem or situation and coming to a decision on how to handle that situation. There are many different models that can be used, typically consisting of either rational or intuitive models with numerous variations on each of these types. The model a person or group uses often depends on those involved in making the decision and the type of problem being considered. A good decision model can be important for many businesses and leaders, though it is not always a flawless way to make decisions.

Decision making models may be used by groups as well as individuals.
Decision making models may be used by groups as well as individuals.

Sometimes called a decision method or decision-making model, a decision model is typically created on a sheet of paper or other visual medium. Numerous software programs and applications can be used to assist in the creation of a decision model, and groups often use large sheets of paper or white boards for making such models. There are many different models that can be used, with different visual representations used to evaluate a problem or come to a decision. Choosing the right decision model for a group or person to use can be a somewhat difficult decision in and of itself, and some trial and error may be required.

Once a decision model is chosen, then different processes can be utilized to fill out that model and come to a decision. Ultimately, however, there are typically a few common steps involved with utilizing such a model. This typically begins with the formulation of the model and any research necessary to determine pertinent information needed to create the model. Analysis of the information in the model follows this, culminating in a decision being formed based on the evaluation of the information present in the decision model.

After a decision is made, then an action plan can be designed and implemented to enact that decision in a way that is effective. Further evaluation typically follows the implementation of this plan, both to consider the plan itself and the effectiveness of the decision model. Once this is done, then future decisions can benefit from the use of the same model, or a new model if the previous one was judged to be inappropriate. Decision models are typically either rational models, which use lists and logical analysis of information, or intuitive models, which usually rely on intuition and the instincts of those dealing with a problem or decision.

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