These days, making choices is complicated. It involves a lot of consideration, critical thinking, and problem solving. Research has shown that a useful approach to evaluating options is through a 3-way model. This model can help to break decisions down into helpful categories and components, leading to an improved and more accurate evaluation. Here are some of the greatest benefits of this approach.

  • It allows for a more comprehensive and thorough assessment of options and alternatives.
  • It helps break down the decision making process into more digestible and organized chunks.
  • It provides greater clarity and accuracy when arriving at a conclusion.

Key Takeaways:
  • The three-way model can help break down decisions into more digestible chunks.
  • It leads to a more comprehensive and accurate evaluation of options and alternatives.
  • This approach can provide greater clarity and accuracy when arriving at a conclusion.

Overview of a 3-Way Model

Making important decisions in the world of business can be both daunting and complicated. After weighing multiple options, executives and decision makers are typically hard-pressed to choose the best alternative that can satisfy criteria, resources and optimize profits. To facilitate this process, one can employ a 3-Way Model for evaluating and rating alternatives.

What is a 3-Way Model?

The 3-Way Model provides an efficient step-by-step approach towards making decisions. It helps set objectives related to the goal of the decision, establish criteria and prioritize resources to analyze and ultimately select the best alternative.

The Three Components

The 3-Way Model has 3 major components:

  • Objectives: Every decision revolves around objectives. In order for an alternative to be chosen, it must satisfy the objectives set by the decision maker.
  • Criteria: Once the objectives are clear, criteria are established to evaluate alternatives. Rating each alternative against these criteria is essential to establish how well it meets the objectives.
  • Resources: Resources are extremely important for the decision making process. A decision maker must analyze the availability of the resources both in terms of quantity and quality to rate each of the alternatives.

Criteria for Rating Alternatives

Using the objectives and the associated criteria, each alternative can be rated and compared. This helps narrow down the options and hone in on the best alternative. The criteria can be classified under:

  • Feasibility in terms of objectives
  • Change in products, services, processes or systems
  • Accessibility of resources
  • Availability of financial resources
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Speed of implementation
  • Accessibility of technical expertise and staff for execution

Making the best possible decision is essential to business success. The 3-Way Model helps to evaluate and rate alternatives for efficient decision making.

Advantages of the 3-Way Model

Using a 3-way model presents a number of advantages, allowing teams to prioritize different alternatives, be more objective in decision making and focus on key objectives.

Ability to Prioritize

The three-way model allows a team to prioritize the alternatives they are evaluating. By going through the process of categorizing each one as “safe,” “probable,” and “very good,” the team is able to identify the areas that have the most potential and focus their time and resources there.


When evaluating alternatives, a 3-way model can be used to ensure decisions are based on facts. This type of analysis takes the subjectivity out of decisions, which is integral to good decision-making.

Focus on Key Objectives

Using a 3-way model allows teams to focus on the key objectives they are attempting to reach with the decision they make. This way, teams are able to take a more strategic approach to their decisions, rather than simply jumping to the most appealing one without considering its long-term implications.

  • Ability to prioritize
  • Objectivity
  • Focus on key objectives

Challenges of the 3-Way Model

The 3-way model is a valuable tool for making decisions and planning strategies. With its systematic approach, you can weigh and evaluate different initiatives using a simple formula. However, this model is not without its challenges.

Data Limitations

Gathering reliable data on the true costs, risks, and benefits associated with an initiative can be a difficult task. The data available may not be updated, comprehensive, or accurate, which can lead to biased decision-making or inaccurate predictions. Additionally, many criteria used to evaluate alternatives are open to interpretation and do not provide definitive answers.

Subjectivity of Criteria

When considering the costs, risks, and benefits of an initiative, criteria used to evaluate them may vary from person to person or from situation to situation. These subjective criteria lead to different evaluations and may prevent useful comparisons from being made. Even the same criteria could be interpreted differently depending on the individual.

Possible Inaccuracies

The 3-Way Model relies on various criteria to evaluate alternatives, but when those criteria are subject to interpretation, it can lead to inaccurate evaluations and inadequate decision-making. Additionally, if the criteria used vary between individuals or situations, it can lead to comparisons between incomparable alternatives or incorrect assessments of the initiative.

Examples of Using the 3-Way Model

The 3-Way Model is a tool that can be used to effectively evaluate options and make decisions, as it provides a comprehensive overall assessment based on numerous criteria. Evaluating alternatives through a 3-Way Model can be applied to a variety of different applications, from business and medical practice decisions, to educational decisions.

Education Decisions

The 3-Way Model is particularly useful in educational decision-making. A student considering their collegiate options, for example, might use a 3-Way Model to evaluate the cost, quality, and social factors of each of their options. By taking into consideration multiple factors, the student can obtain a more holistic view of each option before making their decision.

Medical Practice Decisions

In the realm of medical practices, the 3-Way Model can be used to assess various treatments, procedures, and equipment that influence the quality of patient care. For example, a care provider might evaluate a new cutting-edge medical device against the associated cost, efficacy, and safety of the product.

Business Decisions

Business decisions also benefit from the 3-Way Model approach, as multiple variables such as cost and benefit can be considered. A cost-benefit analysis of a potential investment opportunity, for instance, might be conducted using a 3-Way Model. Other decision making scenarios, such as marketing and human resources might also be analyzed using a 3-Way Model to gain an in-depth and well-rounded understanding of the given situation.

Tips for Implementing the 3-Way Model

When evaluating alternatives, the 3-way model can provide a comprehensive and objective framework for assessing all pertinent factors. To ensure that the process yields the desired results, there are a few tips to remember when using the 3-Way Model:

Understand the Full Context of the Decision

The results of the 3-Way Model depend on having all the necessary information to make an informed decision. To ensure the most accurate results, take the time to gain a comprehensive understanding of the full context of the decision. Consider the long-term implications of the decision as well as any potential external factors that could influence the decision.

Ensure the Criteria is as Objective as Possible

When determining criteria for assessment, strive to make the criteria as objective as possible. Objectivity is essential if the process is to remain consistent and fair. This requires focusing on measurable factors such as capabilities and results rather than subjective or personal opinions.

Put Greater Emphasis on ‘Worth’ than ‘Cost’

Although cost is an important factor to consider, it should not be the primary focus when evaluating alternatives. Make sure to also place equal or greater emphasis on the ‘worth’ of the alternative. Consider the long-term value of the decision rather than its immediate cost.

By following these tips, the 3-Way Model provides a reliable and standardized framework for making informed decisions. It enables you to objectively evaluate all pertinent factors and make the decision that will deliver the greatest overall worth.


The 3-way model is a powerful decision making tool used to identify, evaluate and compare different alternatives. It is a repeatable process that breaks down the decision into three distinct criteria, providing structure and helping to ensure that stakeholders are considering all the potential considerations when making the decision. While this model has its limitations and it’s important to be aware of them when using it, it can be an effective decision making tool for nearly any situation.

The 3-way Model is an Effective Process for Evaluating Alternatives

The 3-way model helps organizations and stakeholders by providing a structured and repeatable process that can be used when making important decisions. By breaking down the decision into three distinct criteria, stakeholders are better able to identify, evaluate, and compare different alternatives to select the one that meets the needs of the organization.

Need to Be Aware of the Limitations and Tips for Implementation When Considering the 3-Way Model

No decision making model is perfect, and the 3-way model is no exception. It is important to be aware of its limitations in order to make sure that all potential considerations are being taken into account when making decisions. Additionally, it is important to follow all of the steps in the 3-way model and be aware of any tips that could make the implementation of the model more effective.

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