ben franklinAs the world changes, you will be faced with a series of challenges. As a marketer trying to decide what niches to approach, or as a sales person coaching a prospect through a purchase, the ability to make a decision is a critical skill for success. For some, decision-making is a case of following their gut. For others, decision-making is a glacial experience, fraught with indecision. Ben Franklin once said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” To ensure preparation and aid his decision-making,  Franklin had a simple tool that is both prudent and timely.

To use the “Ben Franklin” system,  take a lined pad and write the question to be decided at the top of the  page and below divide the remaining sheet into two vertical columns. The left is for the negative consequences of your action and the right is for the positive benefits. Consider the question at hand and start to fill in the columns, with a consequence or benefit in each row. When done, the side with the most reasons wins.

A variance of this process is  to “weight” each element that influences the answer. Again, each column(s) is  a candidate answer to your question. Add another column to “weight” each element.  Each element should have a value in all columns that represents its value for each answer.  Multiply the weight of the  element to value for each column and place the answer in another column. When complete sum the rows and the number with the largest total wins.

Should I stay home or go out to eat tonight?

Ben Franklin Example

Example of a Ben Franklin Matrix

You may take the advice of the matrix, you may not. But in going through the process you will become awake to the reality of the situation. It is always best to  be informed with eyes wide opened.

What decision are you struggling with right now?

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