The #1 Decision Making Framework

Does it take you and your team AGES to decide on a solution? Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to make better decisions, faster.

Decision-making is a challenge for nearly every team. Juggling polar opinions, different working-styles, and team politics while simultaneously trying to make headway on a project is NOT easy. How do you turn ambitious ideas into actionable tasks? And how to decide which ideas to try first and which ideas to ignore completely?

Well, we're here to help you make decision making in team easy once and for all! Say hello to Action Board, a great workshop to help you and your team make decisions FAST and turn ideas into ACTIONS!

This is an exercise to run once you've got some solutions and ideas, but you're not quite sure how to prioritise or execute them. If you don't have a handful of viable ideas just yet, we recommend you try the 10 for 10 exercise, a brainstorming technique that actually works.

Workshop Overview

Workshop name: Action Board
Workshop outcome: A prioritized list of solutions and actions with clear next steps
Time: 25 minutes
Materials needed: A whiteboard or a flip chart + One block of rectangular sticky notes + 1 sharpie
Minimum participants: 2
Maximum participants: 10 per table

Introduction to the 'Action Board'

Action Board takes an extremely powerful decision-making tool, The Effort/Impact Matrix, and combines it with a simple system for creating actionable tasks. It's likely that you'll have seen the Effort/Impact Matrix during your time at work as it's a very common tool used in management consulting and agile projects.

Before you start an Action Board session, you must have some ideas or solutions to bring to the session. These ideas/solutions may have come from something like 10 For 10 or a similar Idea Generation Workshop.

Step 1: Create the Effort/Impact Scale (1 minute)

Simply draw the Effort/Impact scale below on a whiteboard or a flip-chart. That's it!

It's pretty self-explanatory what each quadrant means: top right is high effort, high impact and bottom left is low impact, low effort.

Step 2: Add Solutions/Ideas (5 mins)

Now we're into the real stuff... we're going to take our ideas and solutions from whatever previous exercise we used to produce them and add them to the Effort/Impact Scale.

This step could be a nightmare if we allowed everyone on the team to talk, but we're going to control the discussion by reducing the options for the team. Here's how it works:

1. Take the top voted sticky note from your ideation session

2. Hold it in front of the center of the Effort/Impact scale and ask and use this sentence: "For the challenge we're trying to solve, do we think this solution is Higher or Lower impact?". Only allow the participants to say "Higher or Lower" than the center point.

3. Once the participants agree on an "Impact position", you now do the same with "Effort". "For the challenge we're trying to solve, is this solution Higher or Lower effort"

4. Once you have one Sticky Note on the scale, the next ones will be easier.

5. Add up to 10 ideas/solutions to the scale

6. At the end of the exercise, your scale should look something like this:

Once all the solutions are on the scale, you now have an excellent visual overview of two critical things:

  1. How impactful each idea is according to the team
  2. How difficult each idea will be to implement

A great way to understand the scale is to look at each of the 4 quadrants as having specific labels that will make the next step much easier.

As you can see below, the top left quadrant is "Do Now", meaning any task in this quadrant is both high impact and low effort, this is usually simple as a 1-3 week experiment.

Top right is "Project", this means that anything we want to execute in this quadrant will likely need to be turned into a longer-term project.

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Step 3: Turn Ideas into Actions (15 minutes)

Any ideas that fall into the "Do Now" quadrant will now be turned into actionable experiments and assigned to somebody on the team or in the company. As each experiment can take up to 5 minutes to craft, we recommend focussing on getting 1-3 of these Actions created for an Action Board session.

Let's create an Action:

1. Take a sticky from the "Do Now" quadrant. The first one you should take is the sticky closest to the top and closest to the left of the 'Do Now' quadrant. This is the highest impact and lowest effort idea.

2. Considering we're still solving for the challenge "HMW Get people excited about Workshops" - let's say that the first idea sticky we take off says "Create an email mini-course on workshops"... this is getting a little meta, right?

3. Next, you as the facilitator, are going to turn this idea into something actionable. A plan for someone to execute. To do this you're going to create a simple "2 Week Experiment" based on the idea and you're also going to add simple "success criteria" on a separate post-it. Here's an example:

Step 4: Document and Assign tasks (5 minutes)

Once you've created 1-3 of these Actions, you're going to document them in whichever task tracking software your company uses and you will assign these tasks to individuals on your team. That's it!


With Action Board, you can turn what could be a nightmare of subjective conversations about what's important and what's not into an efficient, even enjoyable 25 minute prioritisation session. Ideas mean nothing without action, and Action Board is the perfect way to make sure your team's ideas don't get lost. Try it out and let us know how it goes!

AJ&Smart Team

A team of pro workshop facilitators with 9+ years of experience.