Decision making can be described as the ability to form a conclusion or to come up with a solution to a given problem or issue. There are always decisions to be made. Our minutes, hours and days are filled with choices that we make decisions about.

As a Product Manager, decision making takes on a different slant because every decision that you make in your role affects many others and your company. Good decision making skills are vital for being an effective product manager.

Product Mamangment Decision Tips

How do you make a good decision? First step is to ensure that you have all the information you need. If you follow the steps below, you will be heading in the right direction:

  • Identify exactly what the problem is including its root causes.
  • Document the problem to crystallize what you believe the problem to be.
  • Collaboratively (as required) generate as many options as you can that provide solutions to the problem or individual aspects of it.
  • Explore and research the options further, not for too long procrastination is a no-no.
  • Choose the best option or combination of options available.
  • Review the decision.
  • Implement the decision and communicate it clearly and concisely.
  • Monitor the direct results of implementing the solution.

Decision Making Techniques

Most of us have a tendency to make decisions solely on gut instincts. As a product manager, you are accountable for your decisions and need to be able to justify them with a clear rationale.

Let us look at the four most commonly used decision making techniques:

The Morphological Box/ Grid Analysis/Decision Matrix: This is a very simple methodology that involves the drawing of a grid with the root problems that you have identified as the column headers and then each solution has its own row. You then systematically review each option against to see which problems they solve. You can do this by simply using ticks or assigning a number on a scale from 1-5 for the effectiveness of that solution for the related problem. Adding up the ticks and scores will give you an idea of the best solution.

The Weighted Decision Matrix/Weighted Grid Analysis: This is a more evolved version of the technique above. You draw up exactly the same grid but you assign weightings to each of the problems. So the problems that are more important to be solved would have a higher weighting than the lesser ones. As before you review each solution against the problem assign it a score say from 1-5 and then multiply it by the weighting for that particular problem. Adding up the scores will give you an idea of the best solution.

Decision Trees: These are diagrams that are designed to graphically depict the decision making process and any influence that the decision will have down the line. You start with a box on the left of the page and then flow out each decision point. Each decision point is a gateway. If the answer to the decision is a yes you then flow on to the next decision. This goes on until all the decisions have been made. Doing this for each option allows you to see where the options may start to fall apart.

Decision making Resources

The Art of Decision Making as a Product Manager by Sachin Reiki

The Four Villains of Product Management by Laure

5 Ways Companies Make Product Decisions by Roger Cauvin

What I Learned at Slack – Part 4: The Six Forces of Product Development by Kenneth Berger

Four steps to more decisive product decisions by Laure

Leading Through Influence: Driving to a Decision by The Clever PM

6 decision-making techniques all Product Managers should know by Joanna Beltowska

A Leader’s Guide To Deciding: What, When, and How To Decide by Steven Sinofsky

Decision Making Transparency (The Why) by John Cutler

What to Do When You’ve Made a Bad Decision by Dorie Clark

Avoiding Cognitive Bias

Cognitive bias by Alvin Hsia

Managing Experience Bias: How to avoid building products that fail by Saurabh Gupta

20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions by Stephen Clarke

Cognitive bias cheat sheet by Buster Benson

 Tools for Making Better Decisions

Decision Matrix Template
Downloadable template for creating a decision matrix based on your own criteria.

The Best Books for Making Better Decisions

Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work by Dan Heath and Chip Heath
In Decisive, the Heaths, based on an exhaustive study of the decision-making literature, introduce a four-step process designed to counteract these biases. Along the way, we learn the answers to critical questions like these: How can we stop the cycle of agonizing over our decisions? How can we make group decisions without destructive politics? And how can we ensure that we don’t overlook precious opportunities to change our course? Decisive is the Heath brothers’ most powerful—and important—book yet, offering fresh strategies and practical tools enabling us to make better choices. Because the right decision, at the right moment, can make all the difference.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives―and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.