By Steve Czerniak, Subject Matter Expert, SCORE of Southeast Michigan

Many, if not most, people look at the advantages and disadvantages of a situation. They are trying to capture and organize their thinking, to help them make a decision.


The simplest form is to make two columns. Put the advantages on one side and the disadvantages on the other.

The next step is to pit them against each other to figure out the best course of action. An example might look like:

From this analysis, I would conclude that I should NOT buy a new car. However, many might put quite a bit of weight on one of the advantages. They might conclude that they SHOULD buy a new car. They might also have additional advantages that I do not (e.g. the prestige of a new car).

The limitation is that there is no numerical measure. We need to apply numerical values to indicate what we perceive as the benefit of the advantages and the disruption caused by the disadvantages. The following table illustrates how that can be done:


Let’s apply this to our example:

From this analysis, I would conclude that it’s a tie. Another person might look at this result and say, “Yeah, but there are other advantages that you haven’t considered." Good, do your own analysis.

The limitation is that this one-factor value only deals with the perceived consequence (benefit or disruption) from the advantage or disadvantage.


We can expand the analysis to additionally include consideration of the likelihood of the event occurring as a second factor (just as an example). 

1 = Remote
2 = Unlikely
3 = Likely
4 = Highly Unlikely
5 = Near Certain

The total of values would still be used to direct the decision. Let’s apply the added factor to our example:

(NOTE: L means Likelihood and B means Benefit)

From this analysis, I would conclude that I should not buy a new car. 

The Bottom Line

I would conclude that I should not buy a new car. Two say I should not, and one says it’s a tie.

You can build your own one- or two-factor analysis. Think it through, and don’t be afraid to adjust as you go.

About the Author

Steve Czerniak retired after a successful 37-year career as a leader and innovator. The last fifteen years were a series of opportunities that honed his skills as an internal consultant and “change agent.” In retirement, he is a volunteer consultant and a SCORE Subject Matter Expert for the Southeast Michigan chapter. His personal volunteer objective is to “derive personal satisfaction from helping others, and the organizations they operate, to develop and prosper.”