If you ever wanted to better examine your decisions in a more objective way that also helps you see some potential outcomes, figure out potential risks and avoid them and last but not least, predict how likely you are to achieve success, there is a perfect tool for you.
It’s called a decision tree and it’s a very useful diagram that will help you improve your decision-making skills and prevent less than fortunate outcomes. If that’s something you’re interested in, then just keep reading this article. By the end, you’ll find out everything there is to know about decision trees, including benefits and how to create one.
What is a decision tree?
Before we get into the tutorials, we have to go over the basics. So what exactly is a decision tree? Well, it’s a specific type of flowchart that’s used to better visualize the decision making process by drawing out various courses of action, along with their potential outcomes.
A decision tree usually has three main elements:
- This is the top level component and is used to represent the goal or outcome you want to reach with your decisions.
- Stemming from the root, the branches are used to display different options you have when making a decision. They’re usually drawn as arrows and usually include things such as costs or the likelihood to show up.
- The leaves are the possible outcomes for every action you take. You will usually see two types of leaf nodes: the squares, which are decisions to be made and the circles, which represent an unknown outcome or chance event.
When combined, all of these elements resemble a tree, hence the name. You can create one using the good old pen and paper method or just use an online decision tree maker. The latter will make your life much easier, as you’ll be able to save everything in the cloud and access it whenever you want.
What are the benefits of a decision tree?
There are many benefits to a decision tree. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most important ones.
Because a decision tree is not linear and doesn’t have a fixed structure, it’s much easier to explore, plan out and predict more outcomes following your decisions, no matter where and when they occur.
For example, HR people can create a decision tree to help their colleagues and a company’s employees work out their desired career paths that are based on interests, skills and personal traits rather than a fixed timeline.
Decision trees are used to easily visualize cause-and-effect relationships. They provide a simple view of a potentially more complicated project. They’re also very straightforward and easy to understand, even for someone who is not involved in the project, which makes them perfect for the moments when you have to explain the process to a new team member.
When making an important decision, especially when it comes to your business, it’s important you consult with others. However, when you rely too much on other people’s opinions, you risk making the wrong decisions. For starters, every opinion you get will be subjective – people have their own biases and some might not even understand the whole picture.
With a decision tree, you can get a more balanced view of the entire decision-making process, while also calculating both the risks and rewards. Because a decision tree doesn’t usually involve more than one or two people, it brings a healthy dose of objectivity in every decision-making process.
How do I create a decision tree?
Creating a decision tree is quite easy. All you have to do is follow these easy steps:
- Figure out your objective and add it at the top. This will be the root of your decision tree.
- Trace your arrows for every possible course of action you can take. These should stem from the root.
- Attach leaf nodes, which are the results of each action you might take. If it’s another decision you need to make, draw a square. If you don’t know the outcome yet, draw a circle.
- Figure out the odds of success of each decision. This is where you should do a bit of research so you can predict the outcomes with accuracy.
- Evaluate the risks and rewards of each decision and course of action. When you calculate the expected value of each decision, you’ll minimize the risks considerably.
And that’s it. You now have a decision tree that’s ready to help you figure out the best courses of action for your business. Now, make no mistake, a decision tree is a perfect tool for any industry, including HR, real estate, IT or sales.
Even as a student, you can use a decision tree to explore potential career paths you might want to follow. Really, there are no limits to when and how you can use a decision tree.
Our Final Thoughts
A decision tree can greatly increase your decision-making capabilities. If you think about it, the entire process of figuring out a goal and the potential courses of action will give you some much-needed perspective on how to act when it comes to certain business decisions.
This type of diagram is incredibly useful, especially because it provides you with a very objective view of the decision-making process. There’s no place for feelings or personal opinions in a decision tree and this will help you achieve success faster and better.
What about you? Have you used a decision tree until now? Do you have some tips and tricks you want to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments below! We would love to hear your thoughts.