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Rational Decision Making Process

The rational decision making process is a cognitive process which is made up of a logical step by step process. In this process the emphasis is on thinking things through and also on weighing the outcomes and alternatives before arriving at a final decision.

In general there are 5 broad steps in rational decision making process, through different models follow different methodologies.


  • First  we must identify the situation and the decision that is needed to be made.
  • Second all the important criteria must be discussed and identified. 
  • All possible situations must be carefully considered.
  • All  possible situations must be considered along with their outcomes to see which best fits the bill. 
  • The best option is then chosen.

The presumption in the rational decision making process is that there is only ONE BEST solution to every problem and it focuses on trying to find that solution. Sometimes we just need a solution that works versus the best solution at that moment. This model is also based on prediction of outcomes based on different solutions; however our ability to predict the future is often limited and hence skewed.

This process also requires a great deal of time and thought along with information, it also negates the emotional aspect of decision making.

There is also an eight step decision making process which has been outlined below:

Step 1: Identification of the Problem

Step 2: Identification of decision criteria

Step 3: Allocation of weights to criteria

Step 4: Development of Alternatives

Step 5: Analysis of Alternatives

Step 6: Selection of Alternatives

Step 7: Implementation of the Alternatives

Step 8: Evaluation of the Decision Effectiveness

The rational decision making process is highly effective when used in team decision making and also when making decisions regarding important business outcomes. When dealing with any situation where the decision will affect the companies’ future or financials or employee and customer satisfaction, it is best to follow the rational decision making process.

In order to facilitate the rational decision making model there are many forms and templates available both on and offline to help your team make a decision effectively such as Decision matrix, Pugh matrix, decision grid, Selection matrix, and criterion rating form along with many others, nominal group technique, fishbone diagram etc.

When selection a model and a form it is best to select on that appeals to your style and level of comfort with this leadership tool.

Related Articles:  

Decision Making Skills

Nominal Group Technique 

Fishbone Diagram

Decision Making Steps

Decision Making Tips

Problem Solving Techniques

Return from Rational Decision Making Process to Decision Making Skills 

Outstanding Leaders consider themselves a work in progress
 Dr Franklin C. Ashby 

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Management Terms

Decentralization -
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MBO - Management by Objectives.


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