What is an informed decision? (Including how to make one)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Making decisions is necessary for all aspects of life, including your career. Some decisions are low risk and are easy to make, while others have more serious consequences and require careful thought. Knowing how to consider information and reach an informed decision is beneficial when you're making a significant decision at work or in another area of your life. In this article, we discuss informed decisions, including how to make them and why they're important.

What is an informed decision?

A reasoned or informed decision is a type of decision-making that involves gathering as much relevant information as possible and considering your options. This gives you greater control over outcomes and may lead to more successful results. This type of decision-making encourages success because it allows you to consider all the possibilities open to you. In particular, this applies to your professional decisions. In some fields, your job might involve providing information to others to help them make informed choices. For example, healthcare professionals frequently offer information and treatment options to their patients.

Related: Decision-Making Skills: Definition and Examples

Benefits of informed decision-making

There are a number of benefits of informed decision-making that make it a useful approach. Regardless of the nature of the decision you're making, you're likely to encounter these advantages. These are some of the main benefits of using informed decision-making:

Increased confidence

Making an informed choice increases your confidence in your decision. This happens because you consider all the information and options available before reaching a conclusion. If you tend to doubt your own decisions, then following the process for making a reasoned decision might benefit you.

More control

An informed choice offers you greater control because you're choosing the option you believe to be most appropriate. It's based on information and facts rather than assumptions. Carefully considering all the factors relating to your decision means you can find a more specific option that addresses these requirements. Decisions based on generalisations or assumptions might be less able to do this.

Greater range of options

Considering all the information available helps you find a greater range of possible options. This includes potential ways to proceed that you didn't think of before. Having more options makes it easier to find an outcome that meets your requirements. A range of options also gives you a greater sense of control over the process.

More realistic expectations

Making reasoned decisions gives you more realistic expectations because you consider all the information available. This means that you're aware of the risks and challenges associated with each option. This awareness makes it easier to cope with challenges if they arise. It may also help you plan solutions to potential obstacles.

How to make reasoned decisions

There's a process you can follow if you want to make a reasoned decision. The entire process is usually applicable to making this type of decision in any area of life, including at work. Following this process methodically makes it easier for you to make decisions that are fully informed. If you find it challenging to make decisions or you often doubt your decision-making, then following this process might help you develop your decision-making skills:

1. Identify what the issue is

The first step to making a decision is identifying what the issue is. To make an effective decision, it's essential that you understand thoroughly what the decision relates to. In some cases, the issue to consider might be fairly obvious. In other situations, you might examine the issue more closely to understand the root cause.

Related: How to use the rational model of decision making (with tips)

2. Gather relevant information

Once you understand the issue, start gathering relevant information. Getting plenty of information makes it easier to make an appropriate decision. Gathering information helps you consider the issue from all sides, including points you might be looking at for the first time. The ways you gather information and the types of information you require may depend on the issue.

3. Brainstorm possible outcomes

Based on your research and understanding of the issue, begin brainstorming possible outcomes. When you first start brainstorming, it's worth considering every possible solution, even if it might seem silly or unusual. This gives you a broader range of options to choose from. Brainstorming as part of a group also helps you find a wider range of possible solutions.

Related: 12 methods for generating ideas (with importance and uses)

4. Compare the options

Once you have some possible solutions, it's necessary to compare them. Consider the risks or possible obstacles that might arise from each solution and the chances of the decision leading to a successful outcome. For some decisions, it might be necessary to think about long-term consequences in addition to immediate ones. Comparing the options helps you discount some ideas and focus on the most viable ways to proceed.

5. Make a final decision

Comparing the options is likely to have reduced the number of ways to proceed, and this allows you to make a final decision. Sometimes you may see a clear way to proceed. In other cases, it's necessary to choose between several imperfect solutions. If you find decision-making difficult, it might be advisable to make your final decision fairly quickly. This makes it harder to change your mind or dwell on various possibilities.

6. Implement the decision

Once you make your decision, start implementing it. The work this involves depends on the decision itself. As part of implementing your decision, it might be sensible to think of mitigating strategies for potential challenges or risks. Often, it's worth communicating your decision clearly, including the plan for how to proceed and what issues might arise with other colleagues.

7. Review the decision

At a later stage, it's a good idea to review the decision and identify what's changed as a result. Try to remain objective. Focus on whether the decision achieved the desired results and think about how you might improve your decision-making in this way in the future. Sometimes, seeking feedback from others is also beneficial here.

Other tips for decision-making

Some people naturally find it more difficult to make decisions than others, but there are some other tips you can use when you're making decisions. These suggestions improve your ability to make a final decision and may help you make more effective decisions. Using these suggestions alongside the process of making reasoned decisions may improve your skills and confidence:

Take your time

While some decisions require immediate action, in most cases, you can take your time to make a decision. When you're making a decision, it's worth finding out whether you have a time limit. If you have some time to consider your decision, it's sensible to use it. Be aware that influencing factors may change if you take too long to make a decision, so aim to still make decisions in a timely fashion.

Related: A guide for using the OODA loop to make complex decisions

Get input from other people

While it's important that you stay in control of your own decision-making, it's sometimes helpful to get input from other people. Colleagues or managers may have previously been in a similar position and be able to offer you advice. Alternatively, other people may give you an insight into how a decision might impact them and their work. This helps you make a decision that's more informed.

Be open-minded

Being open-minded allows you to consider more options and new ways of proceeding. This attitude increases your chances of making an effective decision and identifying an appropriate way to make progress. Open-mindedness is also beneficial during the brainstorming stage, as it helps you think creatively and generate more ideas.

Consider both risks and benefits

For each potential solution, it's wise to consider both the risks and benefits it carries. This gives you a balanced view of each possible outcome and the impact it might have. You can, therefore, compare the options more accurately. Being aware of both the risks and benefits also helps you plan strategies for any risks and challenges that might arise.

Remember what the goal is

Try to remember what the goal of your decision is throughout the decision-making process. Remembering the outcome you want to achieve helps you find a solution that's more likely to reach it. It also helps you focus your research on information that's relevant to the decision and reduces the chance of you becoming distracted by other factors.

Adapt to changes

In some cases, circumstances might change during the decision-making process. This might mean reconsidering some of the outcomes you're thinking about or gathering more information before brainstorming possibilities. Changes can mean making a decision takes longer, but adapting means you base your decision on current information and shorten the length of the process.

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