Weighted Ranking for Weighty Decisions in Competitive Intelligence Part 1:
Three Guidelines for Choosing New Horizons
Supporting sound business decisions is bread and butter for competitive intelligence professionals. A defensible, structured approach to that support builds credibility, improves the quality of the decisions themselves, and helps build consensus. Weighted ranking is a valuable approach to making structured decisions based on a large number of criteria:
People are good at choosing between two things, but they tend to get overwhelmed when the list of options gets five or ten items long. Therefore, this approach breaks the choices down into manageable pieces, comparing just two things at a time.
Just as an example, imagine asking people to pick their favorite out of a list:
- Hot Chocolate
- Energy drink
They might have trouble picking their favorite. They might especially have trouble deciding between their 5th and 6th choice. With pair ranking, you would ask them to compare every possibility:
Coffee vs Tea
Coffee vs Milk
Coffee vs Hot Chocolate
Tea vs Milk
Tea vs Hot Chocolate
And so on. By then taking the number of times an item “won” the comparison, divided by the total number of comparisons, you have a quantitative assessment of how much they like each item. Any time there is a significant list of choices, weighted ranking can be a good way to rank the options.
This is part one of a series of three posts about using weighted ranking to support competitive intelligence projects around structured decision making. The second post, “Three Tests to Separate Opportunity from Folly,” outlines by example the process of establishing criteria for considering potential decision outcomes, and the third, “Four Directions to See Which Way the Wind Blows,” shows how to bring the data together to support a structured decision.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart
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