Rational Decision-Making Model Most individuals are faced with situations that necessitate excellent decision-making abilities. Determining the suitable course of action to take when faced with a difficult dilemma can be a challenge. Due to the importance of the decision-making process, decision-making models can be used to establish a systematic means of developing effective decision making. One of the models has been called the 'rational model' of decision making (Stoner & Freeman, 1989). The steps laid forth below are listed as the seven steps of the rational model. The first step of the rational decision-making model is to define the problem, the need, or the opportunity.

Although this may seem either petty or apparent, quite often it is neither. Many of us have had the experience of essentially wasting days and weeks working to solve a problem and then finding out that various members of the group had different definitions of the problem leading to significantly different assumptions about the process. Everyone involved in the decision must have the same frame of reference in terms of the problem, the need, or the opportunity. It may even help to generate a formal problem statement. The second step in the process is to generate all possible solutions.

This involves active searches for information and alternatives. Group process techniques such as brainstorming and assigning someone to play 'Devil's Advocate' are frequently helpful. Many new technologies get chosen and implemented without a thorough exploration of the alternatives. This can happen because the technology decision is dictated from a higher organizational level or because the new technology is perceived as the latest 'thing' being used by 'everyone.' It is at this point in the process that technological gatekeepers become valuable. Information must be gathered from vendors and other users, at trade shows and from the trade and more academic publications. If you do not fully explore and become aware of your options, you cannot make an optimal decision.

After having clearly defined the problem, need, or opportunity and then gathering and exploring all of the relevant information and alternatives, you must then evaluate the information and the alternatives and anticipate the consequences of the various options open to you. It is very helpful at this point to establish objective criteria against which to compare the alternatives. This is also the point at which you need to establish the operational criteria against which you will measure the success or failure of the choice once implemented. The fourth step is to select the best solution based on the evaluation and analyses conducted in step 3. Once the first three steps have been completed, this step should be relatively straight-forward.

These four steps form the core of the rational decision-making method. The last three steps are implement the chosen alternative, evaluate the "success" of the chosen alternative and finally modify the decision and actions taken based on the evaluation done in step 6.