An impact effort matrix is a decision-making tool that evaluates the importance of any project or endeavour by effort and impact. It helps groups to rapidly identify what activities they should focus on, along with the ones they can ignore.
Before you begin
For this exercise you should have ideas, activities or options ready that you would like to prioritise. Each option should be written on one post-it. In this exercise you as the Facilitator will move the post-its on the matrix and ask the group to help you where to locate the right spot on the matrix.
Step 1: Effort Scale
Take the first post-it and put it in the centre of the matrix. Ask the participants to first focus on the horizontal effort scale. How much effort do they think is required on a scale from 0 to 10?
Tip: Encourage them to think about time, money, resources, and capacity will be needed to achieve the desired outcome.
Step 2: Repeat and adjust
Place another Post-it in the centre of the matrix and repeat Step 1. Do this until all post its are sorted on the effort scale.
Tip: Ask the participants to ignore the impact for now and only focus on the effort.
Tip: Compare the effort with the post-its that are already sorted and adjust position if necessary
Step 3: Impact Scale
Time for impact. Start with the post-it at the left and ask the participants to tell you how high or low this activity or idea should be placed among the impact scale.
Step 4 : Repeat and adjust
Take the next Post-it on the horizontal line and repeat step 3. Do this until all post its are sorted on the whole matrix. Have a final comparing look between the positions of all post-its and and readjust if necessary.
Tip: Ask and double check if everyone is on board with the current board
Step 5: Decide
Now that the matrix is filled it should be help to make a decision about what to focus on next.
On the top left are the Quick Wins: Activities that give the best return based on the effort.
On the top right are the Major Projects: Activities that provide long term returns but may be more complex to execute.
On the bottom left are Fill Ins: Unimportant activities including everyday tasks.
On the bottom right are Time Wasters: These activities are time-consuming and require resources that are better spent on other things.
Tip: Follow this exercise up with a tangible actionable list so that each individual knows where to start from here.
A good use case for the Impact Effort matrix is to decide on a course of action for the team or the business. The final result of the Impact Effort Matrix shows where the team should allocate their time to maximize impact.
Below, you see an example of how an impact effort matrix might look at the end.