Decision-Making Navigation Tool - A Project


Five steps to a reflected decision

Since the start of the project in 2017, the decision navigator has been continuously improved and developed. The path to a reflected decision consists of five steps:

In the first step, the decision question is formulated proactively. In doing so, it is helpful to avoid simple yes-or-no questions and instead resort to open-ended W-questions to allow greater freedom in decision-making.

The second step is to formulate the fundamental goals of the decision. Fundamental goals are overarching values, which sometimes cannot be easily identified directly but require some thought. It can be purposeful to ask oneself the question "Why?" repeatedly in order to formulate the fundamental goals.

In the next step, the decision maker gives him-/herself an overview about all possible courses of action. Since it can sometimes be difficult to identify all possible courses of action, the decision navigator offers various brainstorming methods that are intended to act as a stimulus for thinking about new and creative courses of action.

The fourth step is to assess the impact of the decision. The decision navigator clarifies possible bias errors that may occur when reflecting on the impact of decisions.

In the last step, the alternative actions are to be evaluated with the help of the subjective benefits and the weighting of the fundamental goals. In addition, the decision navigator offers extensive sensitivity analyses, pro and con comparisons and robustness tests. At the same time, the intuitive gut feeling is given a special place in the last step, which is why deviations of the analytical result from the gut feeling are to be recognized and corrected under certain circumstances. Only then, the consistent implementation of the decision takes place.

Application in society and politics

The decision navigator has already found application in social and political issues. Tim Höfer from the E.ON Energy Research Center evaluated various possible courses of action for the energy turnaround with the help of the decision navigator as part of the Kopernikus project ENSURE and was ultimately able to implement his reflected decision.

Work has also taken place on a further application - the Navi-Parteien-Check (political party checklist) for Germany's upcoming Bundestag elections in 2021. The development of a new Wahl-O-Mat (Germany's official voting advice application) is intended to enable voters to compare the weighting of their own individual goals with the fundamental goals of the different political parties. The Internet tool that is already in the application is of a simple design. Five abstractly formulated goals are offered to the undecided voter: equal opportunities, equal performance assessment, self-determination, environmental and nature conservation, and international responsibility. With the help of a scale, the voter states how important each of these goals is for her. On the basis of this information, the Navi-Pateien-Check suggests three political parties which have similar priorities. However, Prof. Rüdiger von Nitzsch emphasizes that the ranking should not be regarded as a recommendation for voting in the upcoming elections but that it should be seen as an overview of the different parties' prioritizations and as an impulse for voters to reflect on their own values.

RWTH students are also encouraged to use the Decision Navigator in project modules of the Decision Theory and Financial Services Group and to tackle various social or political projects. A current project is working on a check of parties for the 2021 federal election. The development of a new voting advice application will enable voters to compare their weighting of their own goals with the fundamental goals of the parties.


Online Pathfinder for Carefully Considered Decision-Making

Lots of people find it difficult to make decisions. But sometimes there are situations where you simply have to make a decision - either because it is impossible to put it off any longer or because it wouldn't make sense to do so. Prof. Rüdiger von Nitzsch and his team at RWTH Aachen University have developed an innovative tool which will not only help students in the lecture on "Decision Theory" to understand what decision making is all about; it will also be available online for anbody else who is looking for help because they face soon having to make an important decision. Please visit television reported on the project in their program "Lokalzeit".


The two German newspapers Süddeutsche Zeitung and Welt both conducted interviews with Prof. von Nitzsch on the "Entscheidungsnavi". These are available from their respective websites.

You can also read about the latest developments and other articles on the tool in the relevant Blog


Now the magazine Wir Westerwälder made the topic decisions in the current expenditure (expenditure 17, 12/2020) the core topic and presented the Decision-Making Navigation Tool. The magazine also referred to the new book "Reflektiert entscheiden - Kompetent mit Kopf und Bauch" by Rüdiger von Nitzsch and Florian Methling, who present methods that will support you in decision-making in the future. They also advocate a combination of intuitive and rational decision-making.