Decision Matrix can help your group decide: Part 1

Decision Matrix uses data to help groups come to consensus.

The Facilitative Leadership Program from Michigan State University Extension teaches several convergent thinking tools. These tools allow facilitators to help groups determine what the top solutions may be and make it is possible to discover the answer through analyzing the ideas generated in brainstorming. Among those tools is a decision matrix.

The University of Wisconsin Extension talks about decision making tools by stating that, “anyone with experience working in today’s fast paced world knows how difficult it is to sort out priorities and get to a good decision. And the task of making decisio’ns is constant in our work. How can you organize your thinking so that every such situation doesn’t require reinventing the wheel? How can you make lasting decisions? This article will discuss the application of “decision matrix,” while part 2 will discuss how a facilitator should put the tool into practice by walking through each step.

The name of the process, decision matrix, arises from the fact that once brainstorming has been completed, a group must make a decision or choice. Brainstorming and possibly an additional narrowing or convergent thinking tool, should have assisted in helping to determine criteria the group will use for the final decision. This holds true for a variety of decisions ranging from office space allocation to curriculum changes to selection of candidates. When the group has agreed on criteria early in the process, all possible choices can be judged against the criteria.

A decision matrix is just one of many tools currently considered “best practice” for good decision-making. It uses a systematic approach to narrow down options, comparing choices by using a combination of weighted voting and ranking.

A criteria matrix is especially helpful when:

  • Options for a solution are many (10-20 choices)
  • There are a significant number of criteria (6-15 items)
  • Quick consensus is needed to proceed

MSU Extension offers professional development training, including volunteer board development, communicating through conflict, meeting management and facilitation skills development, and organizational strategic visioning and planning. To contact an expert in your area, visit the find an expert section on the MSU Extension website.

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