Jeff Belkora developed SCOPED as a checklist for making decisions.

You can learn more about SCOPED by reading Jeff’s book DEAL! Discovery, Engagement, and Leverage for Professionals, available in ebook or paperback from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/DEAL-Discovery-Engagement-Leverage-Professionals/dp/0996657711 

SCOPED stands for:

Situation, Choices, Objectives, People, Evaluation, and Decisions.

People use SCOPED to think, talk, read and write about decisions. 

Situation: clarifying known facts about my condition

Choices: clarifying which options are available

Objectives: clarifying my goals and priorities

People: clarifying roles and responsibilities

Evaluation: clarifying how my choices affect my objectives

Decisions: clarifying which choice is best and next steps


SCOPED can be self-administered or facilitated by a person or software program.

The product of the SCOPED process is the SCOPED Note.

This is a brief document, ideally a one-pager, summarizing the SCOPED elements for a particular decision.

Below is a SCOPED Note template with prompts. Review details section below for an elaboration of each category. Click on App to fill out a SCOPED form online.

Situation – clarifying known facts about my condition

List of key facts (from the past) about the situation. Questions?

[Facts 1, 2, 3…]

[Questions 1, 2, 3…]

Choices –clarifying which options are available

List of available choices. Questions about what you can do?

[Choices 1, 2, 3]

[Questions 1, 2, 3…]

Objectives – clarifying my goals and priorities

List of objectives. Questions to clarify what you want?

[Objectives 1, 2, 3…]

[Questions 1, 2, 3…]

People – clarifying roles and responsibilities

List of key people and their roles and responsibilities. Questions about who can help?

[Persons 1, 2, 3… and their roles and responsibilities]

[Questions 1, 2, 3…]

Evaluation – clarifying how my choices affect my objectives

How choices may affect objectives. Questions?

[Predicted consequences 1, 2, 3…]

[Questions 1, 2, 3…]

Decisions – clarifying which choice is best and next steps

[Best choice, reasons, and resources needed to implement decision]

[Next steps: Who, what, when, where, why, how]

[Questions 1, 2, 3…]


This is an example of how to structure decisions using SCOPED. It is not intended as advice on the topic of vision correction, but rather as an illustration of a SCOPED Note. Please refer to the SCOPED app to generate your own SCOPED Notes.


Jeff Belkora developed SCOPED based on a model of decision quality with roots in the decision analysis group at Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s, and in Ron Howard’s Decisions and Ethics Center at Stanford University. Later, Strategic Decisions Group popularized an enduring model of decision quality featuring six elements: Frame, Alternatives, Information, Preferences, Logic, and Commitment to Action. Various adopters of this decision quality model, including the Decision Education Foundation, would use it as a template for thinking, writing, and talking about decisions. Belkora adapted some of the SDG decision quality elements and substituted others in creating SCOPED. Belkora was also inspired by the SPIN framework (Situation-Problem-Implications-Need), by the SOAP Note (Subjective-Objective-Assessment-Plan), by Kepner Tregoe, and others.


Please click below to view a clip inspired by the Dos Equis ads featuring “The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Detailed SCOPED Note Checklist


  • What you know. Key facts, data, information – about the past.
  • Questions about your situation?


  • What you can do.  Alternatives, options, strategies.
  • Questions about the choices available to you?
  • List three creative, feasible, significantly different alternatives.
  • Doing nothing, or sticking to the status quo, is almost always a choice, but it’s often overlooked when people are analyzing decisions.
  • Gathering more information (e.g. testing/research) is almost always an option, but any tests/research should be material, in other words they should have the possibility of leading to information that would change your preferred choice. Tests/research may sometimes be destructive, in the sense that acquiring information can be costly and leave you worse off than you started. Tests can also start you down a slippery slope of incremental actions based on indeterminate results.


  • What you want. Goals, objectives, values, preferences.
  • Questions about objectives?
  • You can use the SMART mnemonic to refine your goals. Ultimately your objectives should be:
    • Specific – that is, concrete. “Improve health” is abstract, while “lose weight” is concrete.
    • Measurable – you should be able to know whether you’ve achieved the objective or not. “Lose 10 lbs in 10 weeks” is measurable.
    • Achievable – e.g. “Lose 10 lbs in 1 day” may not be an achievable objective.
    • Relevant –  is your objective relevant in the broader context? If you have more urgent health issues, perhaps losing weight is not where you need to focus your attention.
    • Tangible – your objectives should feel personal to you. Do you want to lose weight, or is it something that other people are pressuring you to do.
  • Objectives are often hierarchical. Once you’ve brainstormed some objectives, try to establish which are “direct values” or ends in and of themselves, versus which are “indirect values” or means.


  • Roles and responsibilities.
  • Who can help. Questions about who can help?
  • Stakeholders are people who are affected by a decision.
  • Indicate, for each stakeholder, whether they should have:
    • Visibility – you will inform them of your decision and ask them to help you implement it.
    • Voice – you will seek their input in analyzing the decision, but not in arriving at a decision.
    • Vote – you will ask them to help you arrive at a decision. (This does not mean you will literally take a vote, but metaphorically they will share in the decision.)


  • How each choice affects each objective.
  • Questions about how each choice affects each objective?
  • List all the combinations of choices and objectives, ideally in a table, if not in an outline.
  • For each choice and each objective, write down what you know or can learn about how that choice affects that objective.
  • Prioritize which choice-objective combinations are most important to you, and most uncertain. Focus your information-gathering and your attention accordingly. Plan to collect or review information, including estimates and forecasts.
  • List the questions you would like to ask people, including subject matter experts who should have a voice in your decision (see People above).
  • Like all projects, your Evaluation can be characterized in terms of Size, Quality, Resources, and Time. How much evaluation is needed? At what quality level? What resources can you draw upon? What is your decision deadline?
  • Depending how you like to arrive at decisions (see below), you may need to collect quantitative as well as qualitative information or projections or estimates or forecasts.

Decisions and Next Steps

  • Which choice is best overall and what are the next steps.
  • Questions about which choice is best? Questions about next steps?
  • Review your evaluation table with the people you listed as having a “vote” in your decision.
  • Arrive at a decision through whatever process makes sense. Usually people combine different approaches:
    • Scientific – follow the numbers. This ranges from more formal and quantitative (e.g. probability theory, utility theory, decision analysis), to less formal and more qualitative (rating and weighting, pros and cons, advantages/disadvantages, weigh scale, narrative.)
    • Social – follow other people’s lead (e.g. peers, experts, etc.) This usually means putting your trust in someone else’s experience or judgment.
    • Soulful – follow your intuition. You may listen to an inner voice that guides you.
    • Spiritual – follow a higher power. An outer spirit may guide you.
    • Somatic – follow your gut, instinct, go with your holistic judgment. Recent research suggests our reptilian brain or limbic system sees patterns very quickly that our neocortex (center of reason) never appreciates rationally.
  • Once you’ve arrived at a decision, you need to plan next steps, perhaps with some of the People you’ve previously identified as participants and stakeholders.
  • Think about the resources that need to be allocated in order to implement your strategy. Who controls them? When, where, and how do you need people to take action?
  • Your next step will be to issue requests that fully specify the scope, quality, resources, and timing of tasks you need people to execute. Anticipate barriers and contingency plans for overcoming them. Create a project plan (task list and timeline) to monitor and guide your progress.