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The importance of good decision making in business really can’t be overstated.

Key Point

To do so, you need to have some tools at your disposal. One of the tools that you may choose to use is the ORAPAPA method. This is a tool which has been designed to make sure you don’t overlook one of the seven important aspects of the decision at hand.

It is easy to rush to make a decision without considering all relevant information properly, and this tool is meant to help you avoid that kind of mistake. By the time you have worked your way through this model completely, you should be able to confidently make your final choice.

The title – ORAPAPA – is an acronym which covers seven areas of decision making. The acronym stands for: Opportunities, Risks, Alternatives, Past Experience, Analysis, People, and Alignment.


What are the positive consequences, the benefits you get if you make the decision?

This is a time to be positive. What are you going to stand to gain by making a specific decision? If everything goes right with the decision that you are planning to make, how will your organization benefit?

You should be taking “a glass half full” approach at this point, thinking about things from a positive perspective. Of course, you should be able to find plenty of options that are related to the decision you might make, otherwise the decision isn’t going to be worth making in the first place.


What are the negative consequences or drawbacks?

Naturally, you are going to need to look at the other side of the coin. This is a step that many managers and owners never want to take, because they expect things to always come up roses.

After thinking about the opportunities that you will open up thanks to your decision, you need to assess the risks that are going to come along with that choice.

How will you be exposing your company to risk if you make a specific choice? Are the risks going to be worth the potential rewards? Every organization has to balance risk and opportunity, so think carefully about both halves of this equation.


Are there any ways to avoid or minimise the risk?

One of the biggest mistakes that is made during a decision making process is closing yourself off to other options right from the start. When you get an idea in your head as to how you are going to proceed, it can be hard to remain open minded enough to allow other thoughts to come through as well.

At this point in the process, do your best to open your mind and think of all possible alternatives to the initial idea that you have had for this problem.

Do any of the alternative solutions offer better potential outcomes than your first thought? What risks are going to come with these alternatives? Take as much time as you need to think through other ideas before you move on.

Past experience

Can you base this decision on past experience to mitigate the risk?

Failing to learn from the past is a major mistake in business, and in life. History has a way of repeating itself, so make sure you learn from any past experience that relates to this choice.

Has a similar situation presented itself in the past? How was that decision handled, and what was the outcome? Very often, you don’t have to make the decision from scratch because something similar has happened previously.


The best decisions are usually a blend of data and human input, so gather as much data as necessary and analyze it properly.

You never want to ignore the data that you have on hand for a given choice. Make sure to utilize all of the data that you can collect on the topic, even if you aren’t going to make your decision based solely on data alone.

The best decisions are usually a blend of data and human input, so try to bring together both halves of this equation properly as you are making your choice. Ask the right people to provide you with the numbers you need to include in your thinking.


How will this decision appear to other people like coworkers, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders?

Even if you are going to be making a decision largely on your own, you can still include the opinions of a variety of people as you try to come to a final decision.

Ask people you trust for their input, and think about the various opinions that you have heard throughout the process.

Does everyone you talk to seem to see the issue differently from how you see it? If so, it might be worth taking a closer look at their viewpoint to see if you can change your own mind. Or, at the very least, you may need to soften your stance in order to wind up somewhere in the middle.


Does this fit in with the organization’s objectives, purpose and goals and is this an ethical decision?

As an organization, you already have a culture, a purpose and an overall strategy in place. Is your decision going to fit with those established elements? You likely don’t want to make a decision that is going to be a complete departure from what you are used to be doing in the organization, so you need to frame the choice within the context of your business.

Or put it and let it start up and grow outside the standing organization when it has a vulnerable initial phase or a disruptive intention.