Quantitative Pros and Cons
Weigh up Decisions With a Simple Approach
Many of us experience "analysis paralysis" when we're faced with a difficult decision. Often, we're afraid of making the "wrong" choice, so we spend a huge amount of time analyzing every possibility, and struggling to reach a conclusion.
At other times, however, we are convinced that we already know what the best solution is, so we make decisions quickly and don't consider all the alternatives.
You can avoid both of these situations by weighing up the pros and cons of a decision – a simple but effective decision-making strategy that allows you to look at the situation from different angles, consider appropriate solutions, and make a confident choice.
In this article, we'll explore how you can analyze the pros and cons of a decision quantitatively, so that you can make considered and well-informed choices.
What Are Quantitative Pros and Cons?
Weighing up pros and cons can speed up the decision-making process, improve your understanding of the situation, and help you avoid decision-making paralysis. Using a simple "pros" and "cons" list encourages you to approach your decision objectively, without letting your "gut feeling" impact your choice.
This method is particularly useful in group decision making, when team members favor a certain idea, point of view, or plan. It encourages each person to consider other perspectives, and it can help your team reach a balanced, informed decision.
Evaluating pros and cons is useful for making quick, non-critical, go/no-go decisions. However, when you have to compare many different options, or explore some choices in greater depth, decision-making tools such as Decision Matrix Analysis or Decision Tree Analysis may be more appropriate.
How to Use Quantitative Pros and Cons
Weighing up the pros and cons of a decision is a quick and easy process.
First, write the decision that you have to make at the top of a two-column grid. Label one side "Pros" and the other "Cons." Then, list all of the possible positive consequences of the decision in the pros column, and all the negative effects in the cons column. (See our example below.)
Now consider the points that you've written down, and assign a positive or negative value to each one. For example, a score of +5 may be strongly favorable, while -1 may be mildly unfavorable. Try to score as objectively as possible!
Once you've finished, add up the scores in each column, and subtract the total cons from the total pros. A positive overall score indicates that you should go ahead with the decision, while a negative one suggests you should scrap it.
Remember, always use your common sense. If you suspect that the solution isn't appropriate, take some time to identify any factors you may have missed.
It can be useful to set a time limit for this process during group decision making. This encourages people to brainstorm issues without over-analyzing details.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, some of your employees have requested to work remotely permanently, instead of from the office. So, you need to decide whether to provide the option to work from home.
Although working with a virtual team has a number of benefits, it also presents several risks. So, you weigh up the pros and cons of a remote working policy, below.
Weighing up pros and cons is a quick, simple way to make objective, considered decisions. Quantifying options helps you to weigh up your decision.
In a "Pros" column, write down all of the possible benefits of following the course of action, and all the possible negative outcomes in the "Cons" column.
Then score your pros and cons to show the importance of each. The total will help you to decide whether it's worthwhile going ahead with the decision or not.
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