The Decision Matrix

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to make your strategic decisions easier

The Decision Matrix is a wonderful process tool to use when a series of competing strategies exist and emotions run high around which strategy is the best to use. This frequently occurs when organizations are faced with tough budget decisions - something has got to go or there are lots of great options to pursue about future directions and there are limited resources. To see a more extended summary of this wonderful process click on the picture above or click here.

7 step process 

Most often all of the steps described below are undertaken by the full stakeholder group. Sometimes a smaller planning team might "prime the pump" with suggested strategies and critiera. There are 7 steps involved in this simple, yet powerful process. The first step is usually the eassiest. 

Step 1: Identify all the possible strategies

Usually a team already has several competing strategies and the fact that there is tension about which strategy is the reason you are resorting to this process. 
Step 2: Identify the most important factors to weigh each strategy against.  

Step 2: Identify the important decision-making criteria

This involves a conversation. What makes most decisions complicated is that there are lots of moving parts. Another way of saying this is that there are lots of criteria that must be achieved through every good strategy - quality, profitability, manpower utilization, ownership, etc. 

Step 3: Identify a weighting factor for each factor or criteria.

Once you have identified the factors or criteria, it is important to assign a weighting factor to each on a scale of 1-10. They are all important, but not equally important. I have rarely seen a criteria receive less than a 5 weighting. Equally important is that not all criteria are 9s or 10s. 

Step 4: Weighing each strategy by each criteria.

Once a grid has been constructed of the strategies and critieria, the assembled team of stakeholders then methodically weighs each strategy on a separate scale of 1-10, with 10 being high and 1 being low. The conversation that ensues about each strategy and how they are weighed against each criteria is what is most important above reaching shared understanding and eventual ownership.

Step 5: Arriving at a score for each strategy.

To do this the facilitator multiplies the weighting value of the criteria (step 3) by the weighting value of the strategy (step 4) and places that value in the matrix at the intersection of the stratety and the criteria.

Step 6: Totaling all the score.

This is the simplest step. The facilitator tallies all the scores and places them in the totals boxes on the matrix.

Step 7: Conversation about next steps. 

The matrix sometimes allows the group to make the decision based on objectifying the possible strategies using numbers. Sometimes a group looks at the numbers and reaches a more creative option by challenging themselves to take the best from the 2 top strategies reached through the matrix.

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