Setting priorities is an important part of getting work done - in fact, it's an important life skill too! Here's an effective tool every facilitator ought to have at hand.
This facilitation tool is a democratic way of deciding which ideas should be prioritised. It creates a sense 'buy-in' and responsibility by getting participants involved in the decision making process and by encouraging open discussions.
- Outline why it's necessary to prioritise. For example, is it because of time or budget constraints? It is important for participants to understand what the reasoning is as it encourages them to more actively engage in the process.
- Discuss all of the items that need to be prioritised, giving equal weight and time to each.
- Ask the group to create a list of criteria against which the items will be assessed. Create a matrix (see illustration in the Example below), placing the items to be prioritised in the left hand column and the assessing criteria in the top row.
- With the assessing criteria agreed, allow the group to discuss the ideas one final time before they make their individual decisions.
- Ask each member to rank each item on a scale of one to three. One being low (priority) and three being high (priority). This can be done as an individual exercise.
- Calculate the group's average score for each cell in the matrix. Add each item's criteria score and divide it by the number of participants. Write this in the appropriate cell.
- Finally, create a total score for each item, by adding the score in each row. The highest scoring item is the one the group considers to be the highest priority.
Example - Carl's Cool Coffee Company
A small coffee shop wants to decide which advertising method would be best, given various business constraints.
In the left hand column, the various advertising options are noted: Pay Per Click, Radio, Poster and Local Television.
The determining criteria are: affordability, resources/time and the profitability.
In this example you can see that poster advertising was the highest priority scoring item, closely followed by radio.
Just to be clear: This is a totally imaginary example - we just want to show you how the matrix works.