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Prioritizing Solutions

A couple of weeks ago I shared a three step process to develop preliminary action plans (from employee engagement survey feedback):

  1. Conduct a Gap Analysis

  2. Prioritize Possible Solutions

  3. Develop Plans (focus on the golf balls)

In case you missed it, click here for that post.

This post is all about the second step in that process: Prioritizing Possible Solutions. From Step 1 you are now looking at a list of possible solutions and likely have no idea how you are going to tackle them all. Spoiler alert: you won't nor shouldn't try to do everything that you have come up with.

There are many different ways to prioritize a list of solutions, but my favorite is to conduct an effort / impact analysis. To do that you need a piece of paper; along the bottom write "effort" with an arrow pointing to the right; along the left side of the page write "impact" with an arrow pointing to the top. Now, draw a line down the center of the page (going both directions) so that you have created four quadrants on your paper. Once your paper looks (kind of) like the example at the top of this page, it is time to plot your solutions. Take each possible solution and assess the effort it would take to accomplish and the impact it would have on helping you achieve your desired future state.

As you plot your possible solutions they will fall into one of the four quadrants:

  1. Easy to do and would yield a significant improvement.

  2. Easy to do, but would yield a small improvement.

  3. Difficult to do and would yield a significant improvement.

  4. Difficult to do and would yield a small improvement.

When you have plotted everything, step back and take a look. There is a chance that while putting everything into a quadrant you thought everything would have a significant impact, but would it really? Be discerning and adjust as needed.

When you are satisfied with your list you now have your path forward:

  1. Solutions in this quadrant are your quick wins. Go make these happen!

  2. These solutions are going to need an action plan to accomplish (more to come in the next step).

  3. After you have tackled the items in the first quadrant, revisit this list and determine whether or not you should tackle them (you could even use this effort / impact analysis again to prioritize them).

  4. Solutions that fall into this last quadrant should be set aside and likely discarded.

Keep in mind that while this post walks you through the process of using the effort / impact analysis to prioritize solutions in response to employee engagement survey feedback, this analysis can be used when you need to prioritize other things as well. Don't limit yourself!


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