How To Decide with Criteria and Weight

Gbemisola Afolabi Written by Gbemisola Afolabi · 2 min read >

Are you wondering how to decide between various options? … You can improve your decision-making skills by adding criteria to what guides such alternative decisions and assigning weight.  This helps you prioritize effectively.  The key is making the criteria explicit.

This is effective when making personal decisions, and most effective for group decision making. It works well for personal decision-making because it forces you to get clarity on your criteria. It also works well for group decision-making because it gives everyone the opportunity of creating a set of shared criteria.  When people know what’s valued amongst their criteria, it’s easier to understand and weigh in on the decisions.

It’s also a good way to focus on the most important criteria amongst several other options and out mismatches on expectations when trying to decide in groups.  For example, if one person thinks attending Lagos business school is the most important, but another think investing the money in a business is more important, you can have a conversation about the different opportunities that come with being in Lagos business school or expanding the business as of that moment and then identify the trade-offs and share perspectives.  The other beauty of using criteria and weight is that it helps make the issue less subjective, so you can have a less defensive, and more objective evaluation of the options.

To make this easier to follow, I would be sharing some steps to walk you through this approach.

Summary of Steps

If you need to make an important decision, the following steps can help:

  • Step 1.   Identify the criteria
  • Step 2.   Rate the criteria.
  • Step 3.   Rate your options against the criteria and multiply by the weightings

Step 1. Identify the Criteria

In this step, identify the key factors that matter.  For example, when deciding  to Lagos business school or further invest the money in a business, we identified the following criteria:

  • Financial implication
  • Duration
  • Stress threshold
  • Brand identity

Step 2. Rate the Criteria

The next step is weighting each criterion.  This is where you start to get clarity on what matters. Sticking to a scale of 1-10 makes it easier to assign a level of importance to each criterion. For me, in this instance, 5 is the highest-ranked which means it is the most important and 1 is the lowest-ranked which means it is the least important, depending on how an individual decides to rank each criterion based on level of importance. We will multiply these numbers in the next step.

Financial Implication6
Stress threshold1
Brand Identity3

Step 3. Rate Your Options Against the Criteria and Multiply by the Weightings

In this step, you rate your options against the criteria, and then multiply by the weightings:

CriteriaGo to LBS (A)Invest in a business(B) 
Financial Implications21 
Stress threshold12 
Brand Identity12 

 This helps especially when everybody may be on different pages.  For example, in this case, financial implications vary by situation. The 5 rating for financial implication shows how important financials is in deciding whether to go to Lagos business school or invest in a business. In this case, going to LBS(A) is of more advantage to me as the person making the decision, hence why it was assigned 2 and invest in a business (B) assigned and this is how the other criteria (stress threshold and brand identity) were assigned ratings.

Multiply by the Weightings

Here is the result of multiplying the criteria’s score against the weightings.

CriteriaGo to LBS(A)Invest in a Business(B)Weightings (A)Weightings (B)
Financial Implications621126
Stress threshold31236
Brand identity11212

For example, (A) Which is go to LBS is ((6×2=12, 3×1=3, 1×1=3) sum total=16) which is higher compared to (B) which is ((6×1=6, 3×2=6, 1×2=2) sum total=14) which makes going to LBS higher than investing in the business. 

As you can see, the numbers helped highlight some key differences between the alternative decisions. It’s not so much that you can convert your decisions into numbers, since it’s rarely that black and white, instead, it exposes your thinking to get clarity on your values and have more meaningful dialogues.


In conclusion, assigning weightings to criteria helps assign priorities to a reasonable decision to be made.

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