Open Decision Tool Demo Help

This page provides “How To” help concerning the various features of the Open Decision Tool. Additional Decision Management “methods guidance” is available through the Guidance link associated with each section.

The Landing Page

To sign-up at the site, you will enter an email address, password and user name. You will receive an email with a link to verify your account.

ODT Login, Signup and Password Reset page

Enter your email and password to sign in to your ODT account. If you have not verified your account, you will be reminded to check your email.

If you need to reset your password, you can have a reset link sent to your email address.

Page Header

Once logged in, each page has a page header, with the core contents of the page below. The page header shows the active section of the tool (e.g. User Projects, Decision List, etc.), the active project and the signed-in user.

The Help (?) menu gives you the option to visit the About page that describes the features added to recent versions of the tool. This menu is also where you access the DMI’s Help Home page.

The ‘User’ drop-down displays your user name and enables you to either navigate to your ‘Profile’ settings or to ‘Logout’.

Navigate with the ODT

Use the Return option within the ODT (rather than your browser’s “Back” button) when navigating back to the previous page.

User Projects

You will be taken to the User Projects page upon your initial sign-in to your ODT account. The User Projects page enables you to create a new empty project or to import an existing “archived” project from a .clst file.

User Projects page

Please create at least one project to provide a working space for your decisions. To create a project from scratch, enter a Project Name and Project Description and click on the ‘Add Project’ button. To import an existing project (perhaps a decision pattern/cluster) from a .clst file, locate the file, give the project a Title and click on the ‘Import’ button.

Note that you will be set as the Owner of any projects that you create.

The User Projects page also displays projects that have been shared with your by another project Owner or ODT Administrator and the level of access rights given to you for those projects.

However created, click on the Active option for one project and click on the ‘Return’ button in the page header to go to the Decision List page.

Project Editor

Open the Project Editor page by clicking on the Project Name. From this page you can edit the Project Name and Description and ‘Submit’ your edits. You may share your project with everyone (literally everyone, so use this option only if building an example that you want to make visible to all ODT subscribers) by toggling the ‘Private’ vs ‘Public’ dropdown list.

To share one of your projects with a select subset of ODT subscribers, use the Project Members option at the bottom of the page. You will already be shown as the Owner. Enter the email address of another known ODT subscriber and click ‘Add Member’ to share your project with them.

Adding a new member to your project

If there is no ODT subscriber with the email address that was entered, you will receive an error message:

Project Sharing warning

Either contact this user to encourage them to sign up for ODT access or to confirm their ODT email address.

After a user is added to your project access list, you may set the level of access that they receive to one of the following values:

AdministratorFull power to add/delete other users, set access rights or add, delete or modify content
ContributorAble to add, delete or modify content
ReviewerAble to post comments against any content
ReaderAble to view all content in the project
User access rights levels

NOTE: The current release of ODT has not fully implemented this access rights scheme. If you share a project with another user, they will have Contributor rights, i.e. be able to add to, modify or delete your decisions!

Setting Project Member access rights

Decision List

The Decision List is the main page of ODT. The Decision List contains a Navigator panel on the left side that enables you to move been your projects and any decision patterns that have been shared with you.

Decision List Layout

Clicking on a project in the Navigator panel makes it the current focus of the Decision List’s main panel.

There are three ways to populate your Decision List:

  1. Add a single decision from scratch
  2. Import a single decision from a pattern or a previously populated decision
  3. Import multiple decisions from a pattern or a previously populated decision cluster

Add Decision

Decisions are added by providing a name and description and hitting the add button. The decision will be added to the list.

Add Decision feature

Import Decision

To import a decision, click on the “Choose File” button. A file browser will open where you can select a file with a .dcn extension (having been created by the export file function). Once selected, upon return to this page, click the “Import” button.

In this example, we are importing a Career decision for a fictional character, Jim Geny, from a decision archive (.dcn) file on a hard drive.

Decision Import feature

Use this function to seed your Decision List with one or more decisions from a pattern.

Import Multi-Decision Pattern as a Project

The DMI has created a rich set of decision patterns such that you should seldom have to create a decision from scratch. We have organized these decisions into “clusters” within broader patterns for Life Design, Product Design and Enterprise Strategy. You will often want to import such a cluster as you face a new season of life or phase in the development of a product or a business.

Decision patterns for various situations are available through multiple sources:

  1. As .clst files in DMI’s Resources – Decision Patterns page, based on your membership level.
  2. Under the Patterns section of the Navigator Panel

To seed a new project from a .clst file, return to your User Projects page and use the ‘Import Project’ feature select the file and to name the new project. Click the Import button to add the Project to the Navigator.

Import a Decision Pattern as a New Project

The new project is added to the Navigator Panel. Click on it to display the Decision List for this project.

Decision List for Project Import from a Pattern

Copy Decision from Pattern

FUTURE FEATURE. As a DMI member, you will see multiple decision pattern “clusters” under the Patterns section of the Navigator panel. Open the desired pattern and use the Copy Decision feature to copy-paste the selected decision between the pattern and one of your projects.

You may also use the Copy Decision to copy a decision from one pattern to another, from one project to another or from a project to a pattern cluster.

Move Decision

FUTURE FEATURE. Use the Cut and Paste Decision features to move decisions between projects and patterns.

Decision List Layout

However populated, the Decision List displays a summary table of the decisions within the project that is currently selected in the Navigator panel. The Decision Name and Description will be shown for all decisions. If a preferred alternative has been identified for the decision, that alternative’s Name, Preference level (Current Favorite, Committed or Legacy) and the Preference Rationale will be shown.

Decision List table

You may hover over any field to see its full contents (if truncated in the display).

Note that decisions may be sorted by a Decision Number to represent a hierarchical structure. You are not required to make decisions in any sequence, but the numbering scheme can help you create a top-down decomposition (plan of attack) of the decisions that you face in your current situation.

Decision Editor

Click the decision Name “cell” in the table to open the Decision edit panel for any decision in the Decision List. Modify the decision name and description as desired.

Set the decision Class (Single answer, Multi-part answer or Multiple answer) based on the number and type of alternatives that this decision will choose. Most “How?” decisions expect you to commit to a single answer, though some are answered by a multi-part method that is best described as a system of interacting parts. Some decisions call for a choice between N out of M possible alternatives such that multiple answers in a list best represent the chosen solution. Note: If you imported a decision from one of DMI’s patterns, the decision Class will be set for you.

Enter a decision Number to represent this decision’s place in a hierarchy. Click “Submit” to apply your changes.

Decision Editor for Jim Geny’s My Career decision

Criteria List & Editor

Within the Decision Edit panel, click the Criteria option to view the Criteria List for the current decision. Using the Add Criterion option at the bottom of the page, enter a criterion name and description and click Add Criterion to create a new criterion.

Criteria List for Jim Geny’s My Career decision

Modify any criterion in the list by clicking on its Name cell in the table and editing any fields desired in the popup edit panel. Use the Submit option to apply your changes.

Criterion Editor

Alternatives List & Editor

Within the Decision Edit panel, click the Alternatives option to view the Alternatives List for the current decision. Using the Add Alternative option at the bottom of the page, enter an alternative name and description and click Add Alternative to create a new alternative.

Alternatives List for Jim Geny’s My Career decision

Modify any alternative in the list by clicking on its Name cell in the table and editing any fields desired in the popup edit panel. Use the Submit option to apply your changes.

Risk Table & Editor

For each alternative, you may identify potential problems and failure modes, i.e. risks that would make you hesitant to choose the alternative.


Name each risk as a potential problem, describe it in IF-THEN terms and assign Likelihood and Impact to define the degree of threat the risk posed to the success of this decision.

Opportunity Table & Editor

For each alternative, you may identify potential opportunities, i.e. better an expected windfalls that would make the alternative significantly more attractive if they occurred.


Name each opportunity as a potential windfall, describe it in IF-THEN terms and assign Likelihood and Impact to define the degree of benefit the opportunity adds to the success of this decision.

Performance List

Within the Decision Edit panel, click the Performances option to view the Performance List page for the current decision. Within each criterion panel, enter a Scoring Rationale and Score values for each alternative that represent the alternative’s effectiveness in meeting the criterion’s intent. Assign the Score on how much “margin” the alternative provides beyond the Threshold value defined for the criterion.

Performance List for Jim Geny’s My Career decision

After you have assigned relative scores to all alternatives, check the scores for consistency and click ‘Save” to apply your inputs. Move to the next criterion and repeat this process.

Decision Analysis Panel

From within the Decision Editor, click the Analysis icon (to the immediate right of the Performances button) to view graphical comparisons of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the alternatives. The ODT currently supports two analysis views, the Tornado Chart and the Spider Chart.

Analysis Panel for Jim Geny’s My Career decision

Tornado Chart

Click the Tornado Chart option to display the relative merits associated with any pair of “scored” alternatives. Select the two alternatives to display from the drop-down lists in the Tornado Chart header.

Tornado Chart for Jim Geny’s My Career decision

The length of each bar for each criterion is based on the weighted score difference between the two alternative, i.e. it represent that contribution of that criterion to the overall advantage that one alternative has over another. As such the Tornado Chart can help you visualize the tradeoffs that you (giving up on marginal performance of some criteria in order to gain increased performance against other criteria).

Spider Chart

Click the Spider Chart option to view a graphical comparison of the advantages and disadvantages associated with any set of “scored” alternatives. You may click on the alternatives in the Legend to add or remove them from the display.

Spider Chart for Jim Geny’s My Career decision

Make sure that the Preference Rationale attribute associated with each alternative “tells a story” that is consistent with the Tornado and Spider Charts.