The Ultimate Decision-Making Framework

Simon Tratnik
  • 5
    min read
  • Simon Tratnik
    Apr 9, 2024

“Decisions are one of the easiest things to make,” said no one ever.

Whether it's your choice of outfit or how to move a project forward, many of us will happily outsource decision-making if given the opportunity. However, when you're the designated facilitator of your company's high-level project, you have no choice but to roll your sleeves and get to work immediately. And since so much is at stake, you've got to ensure that your team goes beyond just making choices, to making excellent ones.

Sadly, making the right decisions in a group can be even more daunting than personal ones. Conflicting opinions, distinct values, team politics, diverse work styles, etc., can easily complicate the process. Plus, transforming numerous ideas into action points and determining the ones that should be discarded is no small task.

But before you throw in the towel, we’ve got good news for you. Our tested and trusted decision-making framework, Action Board, has come to save the day. 

Action Board is a workshop developed to assist teams like yours make decisions and convert ideas into actionable points easily and in no time. Following right after the 10 for 10 brainstorming exercise, the Action Board exercise is helpful when your team has numerous workable ideas but can’t seem to decide on the best one. 

If you’ve not generated multiple ideas to deliberate on yet, we advise you to conduct a 10 for 10 brainstorming exercise now. But if you’ve already done this, keep reading to learn more about the Action Board and how to leverage it for the best results.


1. Workshop Overview
2. Introduction to Action Board
3. Step 1: Draw the Effort/Impact Scale
4. Step 2: Add Ideas or Solutions
5. Step 3: Transform Ideas to Action
6. Step 4: Assign Tasks
7. Conclusion

Workshop Overview

Workshop Name Action Board
Workshop outcome A prioritized list of solutions and actions with clear next steps.
Time Approx 25 minutes
Participants Minimum 2; Maximum 10
Materials needed - A whiteboard or flipchart
- A block of rectangular sticky notes
- 1 sharpie
- Timer

Introduction to Action Board 

The Action Board is a powerful combination of the classic Effort/Impact Matrix and another system that helps the team generate actionable tasks. If you’ve spent enough time in management consulting, you’ve probably heard or even used the Effort/Impact Matrix at least once. 

To refresh your memory, it’s a tool that attaches importance to tasks according to their possible impact and required energy, using a quadrant. Does that ring a bell? Aha! The Action Board is essentially an Effort/Impact Matrix with a twist— this forms an effective decision-making resource that we swear by.

Now that you have a fundamental understanding of what the Action Board entails, let’s get right to it without further ado.

Step 1: Draw the Effort/Impact Scale 

Time: 1 minute 

The first task in the Action Board exercise is to draw the Effort/Impact scale on the flip chart or whiteboard. All this takes is a vertical (impact) line and a horizontal (effort) line underneath it. Then, divide the scale into 4 equal parts as you can see below. The top half represents high impact and high effort while the bottom half is low impact and low effort.

A large whiteboard with the Effort/Impact Matrix drawn in black marker. The matrix is divided into four quadrants with vertical and horizontal lines. The top half indicates high impact and the bottom half low impact, while the left half shows low effort and the right half high effort. Various colorful sticky notes are placed in different quadrants representing ideas and solutions from a brainstorming session.

Step 2: Add Ideas or Solutions 

Time: 5 minutes 

After drawing the Effort/Impact scale, it’s now time to take the ideas and solutions you generated from the 10 for 10 brainstorming session and reflect them in the scale. If you’re not careful, this step will trigger lengthy discussions among team members. Since this is the primary problem we wish to avoid, you must control the discussion in such a way that completely eliminates the need for a conversation. We’ll show you how:

  • Pick the top-voted sticker from your idea-generation session and place it at the scale’s center 
  • Next, ask the team, “For this problem we wish to solve, is this solution a lower or higher impact?”. They should only be allowed to answer “lower or higher,” in relation to the midpoint
  • Repeat the above process for “effort” immediately after the team agrees on the “impact” placement (that is, “For this problem we wish to solve, is this solution a lower or higher effort?”
  • You’ll be able to work with the other stickers (aim for about 10) easily once you’ve gotten the first sticker on the Effort/Impact scale 

This is how your scale should look like if you’ve done it right:

A diverse team of professionals gathered around a whiteboard during a workshop. One team member, a woman with glasses, is placing a yellow sticky note at the center of an Effort/Impact Matrix. Other team members are observing and discussing the placement, indicating their opinions on the impact and effort of the proposed solution.

After getting all the ideas on the scale, you should now have a good visual idea of how beneficial or difficult to implement every solution will be. Confused? We’ll explain.

When you look at the quadrant, the top left side is the “Do Now,” which is also called the “sweet spot.” This refers to the ideas that should be implemented as soon as possible (not more than 3 weeks) because they have a high impact and require minimal effort. On the other hand, the top right quadrant is the “Project,” which represents the tasks that will be carried out in the long run. They are high-impact but require a lot of hard work.

Meanwhile, the lower left part indicates that the ideas are low effort.  However, they should only be implemented after concluding the tasks in the top quadrants because they are also low-impact. The ideas in the bottom right quadrant should be forgotten in the interim because they require maximum effort but have minimal impact on your clients.

A close-up of a team member's hands, holding a blue sticky note and writing on it with a black sharpie. The note is about to be placed on a whiteboard under the 'Do Now' quadrant. The sticky note details an actionable experiment designed to enhance client engagement through social media advertising.

Step 3: Transform Ideas to Action

Time: 15 minutes 

Welcome to the 3rd stage of the Action Board workshop. Here, the primary goal is to convert the solutions in your quadrant’s sweet spot into experiments that can be carried out immediately. Each actionable idea should be assigned to a team member.

Note: We advise you to prioritize creating not more than 3 actions per Action Board session. This is because you may need about 5 minutes to craft one experiment and you don’t want the session to drag on for too long.

That said, here’s how to create an actionable experiment:

  • Place a sticky note from the sweet spot (start with the lowest effort and highest impact idea by taking the note on the topmost part of the “Do Now” quadrant’s left side)
  • For example, assume that we’re still working on a “How might we increase our client base” challenge; a sweet spot solution may be “Reach our target audience on all social media platforms by running quality ad campaigns.”
  • Lastly, make the above solution actionable by creating a task that a participant can carry out. Based on the HMW challenge above, this task can be “launch a social media ad campaign.” Be sure to give a timeframe within which the experiment is to be conducted. Also, write down the success criteria for the task on a separate post-it and stick it next to the assigned tasks.

Below is a good example of a sweet spot solution, actionable experiment, and success criteria:

Screenshot of a digital task-tracking software showing the Action Board workflow. The screen displays a list of assigned tasks with names and deadlines, each derived from the actionable experiments identified in the workshop. Tasks are prioritized based on impact and effort, with clear success criteria next to each task.

Step 4: Assign Tasks

Time: 5 minutes 

This is the final step in the Action Board workshop. All you have to do here is document the actions from step 3 in your company's task-tracking software. You should also assign the tasks to various group members for execution.

You can download a free template for the Miro board for this exercise here.


Congratulations, you have now learned how to avoid the lengthy and uncomfortable process that's typical of many decision-making sessions. In about 25 minutes, your team will be able to transform solutions into actionable experiments in the most efficient way possible. This is the power of the Action Board. Try it now and don’t forget to share the exciting results with us.

Remember that the 10 for 10 and Problem Framer exercises are easy workshops you can try to further maximize your chances of a seamless process from beginning to end.

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