A decision can be defined as a commitment to a course of action having the intention of serving the interests and values of particular people.
— Frank Yates FY Frank Yates , quoted in The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance
- Multiple alternatives are identified
- The alternatives are compared
- The outcomes of the alternatives are evaluated
- A choice is made about the course of action in a certain situation
When considering decisions one could focus on the final point — the psychological moment in which the decision is made — or the process that led up to making that decision. Robert Hoffmann RH Robert Hoffmann and Frank Yates FY Frank Yates suggest that decisions are much more complex than a single decision point and that it is better to think of them in terms of a process of deciding. The decision-making process is traditionally broken down into three phases:
- Assessment of the situation
- Determination of viable courses of action
- Commitment to a course of action (final point)
But Hoffmann and Yates point out that:
Three-step models are potentially misleading. You can always unpack any given three-step into embedded three-steps, each having its own moment of choice.
— Robert Hoffmann RH Robert Hoffmann and Frank Yates FY Frank Yates , IEEE Intelligent Systems
Decision making is a rich process of addressing several cardinal decision issues or fundamental questions such as the underlying need, defining the options, value judgments, the cost of the decision, predicted outcomes, the authority of the decision maker, trade-offs, the acceptability of the decision for stakeholders and considerations for implementation.