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With so many ideas, how will you choose?

Deciding which ideas to pursue
In our continuing series on more effective planning, this week’s newsletter will help you with an aspect of planning that doesn’t get a lot of attention:

How will you prioritize which ideas to act upon?

At the end of a planning session, we often have more ideas than we could accomplish in a lifetime. How, then, will you decide which to implement?

  • You may base the decision on what is easily fundable.
  • Or you may choose projects that are an extension of something you’re already doing.
  • You may follow whatever is suggested by a person in authority. Or the loudest voice.
  • Or this scenario: Someone suggests an idea, and the group goes so far down the rabbit hole discussing that one idea that it de facto becomes the choice.

None of these scenarios leads to sound decisions made with confidence by the whole group. From there, it is not unusual for participants to leave feeling dissatisfied.

That is where a decision-making matrix can be helpful.

A matrix takes the guesswork out of decision-making by ensuring that all important factors are being considered.

That work starts with a question that groups rarely ask: What is important to consider as we make this decision? What will we base our decision on?

A matrix takes the guesswork out of decision-making by ensuring that all important factors are being considered.

Groups rarely ask these questions. Instead, we assume we are all thinking the same thing (we rarely are). We then jump into making the decision itself, without ever discussing how we will know if that decision is the right now.

Discussing your criteria for decision-making makes all those invisible issues visible. Now you can simply rank each idea against the criteria you’ve identified. This short video shows you what that looks like in practice, with a real-world example.

For example, if one of your decision-making criteria is “How much staff time will it take?” you can then ask, “Will Project A require a lot or a little staff time? How about Projects B and C?” And you can rank them.

The end result will be a detailed picture of what is important as you make your decision. And with that context comes the confidence that you have made the wisest choice possible.

You can see more of what this looks like in practice in this short video.

As you review the video, think about the various places in your life you can apply a matrix for making a decision. That will be good practice for when you are prioritizing ideas for your Community Impact Plan.

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Teach people how to change the systems they find themselves in,
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all by changing the questions they ask.

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