Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Decisions, Decisions - Here's a Method and Tool That Could Help

I recently posted another Google Knol - a bit of knowledge. This one is a rational method for chosing one item from a group of attractive alternatives, particularly in the case where your spouse or business associates differ. It is a process we called a "Trade Study" at work.

"Buying a house, car, pet or PC? Choosing among alternative courses of action at work? Do you and your spouse or your colleagues differ on which choice to make?

"Here is how to get everyone involved to 'put their cards on the table' and make a rational choice that will best serve your needs. A relatively simple Excel-based tool helps you make the right decision, including decisions in the face of uncertainty! It is available for FREE."

The Knol is at and it contains a link to a Decision Tool that runs atop the MS Excel spreadsheet that one of my students back at Binghamton University created some years ago and I have upgraded over the years.

If you have a decision to make, have a look!

Ira Glickstein


JohnS said...

I have a litle trouble reading your pet excell work sheets. Is there a way to enlarge them?

I applied a similar spreadsheet years age when my wife and I were deciding where to retire.

We loved the Arizona area at the same time our children were in the Chicago area so we had emotional ties there. There were many other factors sunshine,suburban vs rural etc. Finance was not a limiting factor. Other considerations were south vs north, midwest vs west, change of seasons all of these had emotional appeal.
We weighed the emotional appeal of each of these factors, made trips not only to Arizona, but to other areas such as Missouri as comprimising alternatives.

The result was a very interesting spreadsheet.

My point is Emotion is a rational entity, at least in our case, and can be evaluated by your method not just hard cold numbers.

Ira Glickstein said...

John, thanks for your comments. If you double-click on the image that should open another window and the image should appear full-size so you can read it more easily.

That worked for me just now both on the Blog and on the Knol.

Both the Blog and the Knol have a limit on the size of images and I usually choose the largest size if the image has numbers in it. It appears that they keep the best resolution image that you have uploaded but only display it when you double-click the image.

After you view the image full-size, click the left arrow at the upper top of Internet Explorer to go back to the original page.

I like your story about using a spreadsheet to rationalize your wife's and your emotions about choosing a place to live with conflicting choices all of which had postive emotional appeal. What a blessing to be able to choose the best of the best of a good lot instead of the least worst of a bad lot!

I got my job at IBM in upstate NY in 1965 and we had a baby and limited finances and we decided to buy a farm and be "gentleman farmers" while I worked full-time and my wife stayed home with our daughter.

We reduced our choices to two, one of which was a bit ugly and bare (no central heating) but less expensive and the other which was much nicer but further from work and more expensive.

At the time I did not know about spreadsheets (which, it turns out were used in finance even before they got computerized) but I came up with a way to turn everything into dollars. For example, I used the distance to and from work to get commute costs and added the dollar value of my commute time, the number of acres, the cost to add central heating, etc., etc. plus the prices of the two places.

It turned out, to my disappointment, that the ugly place was a much better deal than the nice one, all things considered - and we bought it! It turned out to be a great decision!

Ira Glickstein