How-to: Prioritization / Decision Making Tools

Basic Techniques to Structure Strategy Decision Making and Prioritization


Many grassroots teams fall victim to the temptation to pursue every great idea that comes across their plate instead of focusing on a few and doing them really well!  The solution to this draining and ineffective approach is prioritization…but how do you decide what to cut out?  Or maybe you just held a team brainstorming meeting and have tons of great ideas for the next big project, how do you choose?

Here are three tools to help the team focus in on the best option so that you can choose to do something really well instead of trying to doing everything …just good enough.


Here is a link to Tools for Prioritization spreadsheet containing templates for the following tools.

Don’t discredit this simple method for decision making and prioritization. Taking the time to actually write down factors that influenced a decision can help avoid “analysis paralysis”.  It can also be useful when you have to get the rest of the team on board with the decisions that result from prioritization. If you don’t want to use the computer, this method works well on a whiteboard or a big piece of paper.

This tool is useful when you have discrete set of alternatives but you can not do all at once. For example you might have 3 potential solutions to a single problem and you are trying to decide which to implement.  Scoring each of your options against a set of criteria can provide backing for what your “gut” might already be telling you. It can also be a way to make group decisions – by having each team member who should have a say fill out their own matrix then compare.

This tool is useful when there is a large list of potential options or paths to pursue, maybe you intend to do most of the items on your list but just need help deciding where to start. PICK stands for Proceed, Investigate, Consider, Kill. The options are plotted into quadrants which suggest how to deal with each option. It is recommended that the PICK matrix is used as one piece if information along with external factors, available skills and dependencies before deciding the final priority order.

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