Using the Decision Matrix

When your team is having a hard time setting priorities and making decisions in the face of too many options, a simple tool can help you to organise your ideas and focus on those that deliver the biggest impact with the least amount of effort. The decision matrix is designed to evaluate ideas that are most likely to offer the best outcomes. It is a very easy way of bringing more objectivity to the decision-making process. What leaders like about it is that it helps them to judge very different proposals against the same set of criteria.

When using this tool, start by clearly defining the categories in the grid to avoid excessive debate later on about where to place different items. There should be four main categories: easy to do and yields a big improvement; easy but only a small overall improvement; difficult and yields a big improvement; and difficult but just limited progress. After debating ideas, criticisms, suggestions and possible solutions, assign them to one of the four boxes.

On examining the matrix, it will be clear that items in the first category should be implemented immediately. Those in the second category also deserve a high priority. More planning may be needed for ideas that fall in the third category but there should be no delay in getting started. Anything that falls into the fourth category can be forgotten.

The decision grid helps to sort out disparate ideas effectively and provides the basis for an action plan at the same time. It also encourages participation and helps build consensus among the team because everyone gets the chance to express an opinion or cast a vote.