This chapter and the next two introduce some of the methods that can help in structuring and clarifying complex decisions. There are few circumstances is which it is possible to identify a solution as unequivocally the best one. In this chapter you will learn about methods that can help when there are many, usually conflicting, criteria. You will take the first steps towards structuring a decision problem by developing sets of criteria and options. You will then be given the performance ratings of a set of options and will try a variety of methods of shortlisting, ranking and choosing 'good' options.
It is often impossible to be sure, at the time that the decision has to be made, which course of action will lead to a desired outcome. In Chapter 5 you will look more closely at ways of dealing with uncertainty about the future, about values and about the boundaries of the decision problem. In Chapter 6 you will consider a 'risk'-based approach, which depends on estimates of the probabilities of different hypothetical 'futures' becoming reality.
By the end of this chapter, you will be better able to:
• identify and clarify the decision options and criteria in a decision making
• describe three approaches (weighting, satisficing and sequential
elimination) to decision making with multiple criteria
• understand one approach to calculating weights for criteria based on
Decision criteria Characteristics used in judgements about preferences, or measures of
performance, against which decision options are assessed. They usually relate to benefits or
achievement of objectives; to cost or risks; and to feasibility.
Dominated option A decision option that may be similar to another option in terms of some
criteria but is inferior to it in others.