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What are Decision Skills? What is a Good Decision?

Learn and teach core capacities like SEL, Critical Thinking, and Creativity through Decision Skills. 

The skills to make good decisions require more than lists of pros and cons.

Watch a short video about the decision quality chain and fundamental principles that organizes decision skills.

Good decision-making is an essential life skill most people acquire through trial and error. Few have had the benefit of formal training in decision making or are aware of decision science.


Decision Skills utilize the tools of decision science to help us make better decisions, in part through recognizing and overcoming decision traps people commonly make. The principles and practice of decision quality have been successfully applied in business, medicine, and engineering.


Through our work with teachers, schools, and students, we have witnessed the tremendous value this material brings through helping individuals and groups resolve their toughest dilemmas.


Every individual has important decisions to make and everyone can benefit from making better decisions. DEF delivers Decision Skills in different formats to reach a variety of audiences.

DEF’s approach to decision making enables us to judge the quality of a decision as it is being made. We can apply the ideas and methods presented here as a checklist for simple decisions or as a systematic process for difficult decisions.

What Makes a Good Decision?

Decision Quality Framework

To be sure we reach a decision which makes sense and feels right, we need to understand that a good decision has six elements, which are like the links in the Decision Chain.

Chain Poster.JPG

Decision versus Outcome

"Whether my decision is good or bad depends on how I make it, not on the outcome."


Head and Heart
A good decision requires both head and heart. Decision makers need to ask themselves:

  • Does my decision make sense?

  • Does my decision feel right?

Teach 21st century core capacities like SEL, Critical Thinking, and Creativity through Decision Skills. 

Learn how in these short videos. 

Decision Skills are STEM 

The Decision Quality framework we use to organize our material evolved from work in Stanford’s Management Science and Engineering department, and applies an engineering frame to the process of decision making. In the sound reasoning and useful information decision skill domains, Decision Analysis applies mathematical principles to decision situations to achieve optimal solutions, including understanding uncertainty by using probability. Decision Science includes the psychological study of where humans depart from rationality, and Artificial Intelligence relies upon applied decision theory. DEF delivers STEM, practical skills critical for today’s students pursuing tomorrow’s college and career successes.