Workshop Exercises: Decide

Priority Mapping

Direct decision-making through pre-selected criteria

Illustration of Priority Mapping
Run a Priority Mapping play

Also called: Prioritisation Matrix, Decision Matrix

Alternative plays: Golden Path

Follow-up plays: Assumptions Mapping, Trade-off Sliders

Timing: Planning

Origin: Dwight Eisenhower, 1954

Prep time
5 minutes

Run time
30-60 minutes

Group size

Why: Address decision paralysis by aligning collective focus on what needs to be done

When: When your team is struggling to determine where to focus efforts for maximum impact

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

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Instructions for running this play

  1. Draw 2x2. Sketch two intersecting lines to create a quadrant on your large surface.
  2. Set Criteria. Choose two important criteria that will guide your prioritization. This could be Impact vs. Effort, Risk vs. Knowledge, Urgency vs. Importance, etc. Label the horizontal and vertical axes with these criteria.
  3. Prepare the list. Transfer the items to be prioritized to sticky notes. One item per sticky note.
  4. Plot items. Place each item on the map by evaluating each one against your two chosen criteria. Ask the question, “Is this more or less than the other one?” to understand the relative importance or weight of each item.
  5. Discussion. Encourage group discussion as you rank items. It is OK to move past plotted items to a new location during the exercise.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.


Priority mapping is not just about ranking - it's about understanding what matters most to your team.


If there are too many items to prioritize, divide them into categories first and run separate priority mapping sessions for each category.


Involve different stakeholders in separate sessions to see if there are variations in how priorities are mapped.


Invite customers to take part in mapping out what problems willl yielld the biggest value for them.

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