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A decision matrix supports both decision-making and decision quality at the same time. A decision matrix can be viewed as the ‘logic’ behind all decisions, providing the rational for both the support and reasons to de-select or de-emphasize one of the options.

Method to Create a Decision Matrix

Once “Purpose” to the object (ie, topic) has been agreed upon, we can use the “Creativity” tool or narrative “Brainstorming” to develop lists of both the options being considered and the criteria to be used to evaluate the options.  By applying “PowerBalls” and carefully wording our questions, we can now assess the impact of each criterion on each of the options with a simple decision matrix.  For example, if we want to know which sports to target in a marketing campaign, we might develop two lists and populate the decision matrix as shown below:

Facilitate a Decision Matrix to Document Supporting Rationale

Basic Decision Matrix

  • At the intersection of each criterion and option, stipulate precisely the following at the start of your facilitated effort. “TO WHAT EXTENT DOES ‘X’ IMPACT (OR RELATE) TO ‘Y’?”
  • From the example above we might determine that from the perspective of a sports drink company, that ‘Basketball’ is a more desirable option than ‘Curling.’
  • CAUTION: AVOID THE CLOSE-ENDED QUESTION “Does ‘X’ involve ‘Y’?”  There is always a subject matter expert who can draw the correlation.  Conceding ‘Relativity’ we are not after “Does it?”.  Rather, we are focused on the degree, intensity, level, or to what extent does it.

Benefits of a Decision Matrix

Always provide your executive sponsor or steering team with a decision matrix to back-up your decision.  This simple but highly effective visual tool preempts their common question, “Why did you select ‘X’?”  The decision matrix provides your rationale and trail of logic.  Furthermore, if the decision changes, it forces the team to adjust their logic. Once document, it enables your team to be consistent with subequent decisions.

Click here to see a recorded demonstration of this method.



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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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