Workshop Exercises: Decide

Who / What / When Matrix

Unite a group with tasks they've crafted and committed to

Illustration of Who / What / When Matrix
Run a Who / What / When Matrix play

Alternative plays: Dependency Mapping, Priority Mapping

Timing: Planning

Origin: Dave Gray & Mike Berman

Run time
30 minutes

Group size

Why: Solve task ambiguity and missed deadlines by ensuring all team members understand their roles, tasks, and deadlines

When: When assigning responsibilities is crucial for momentum

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.

Reserve your deck!

Instructions for running this play

  1. Setup. On a large surface create a matrix with three columns labeled WHO, WHAT, and WHEN.
  2. Assign Roles. Instead of starting with tasks (the ‘What’), begin by listing all the participant names under the ‘Who’ column. Each person present is a potential action taker.
  3. Define Actions. Ask each participant to declare concrete next steps they can commit to. Write these commitments under the ‘What’ column. Allow participants to define multiple actions if they feel strongly about certain tasks.
  4. Set Deadlines. For each task, ask the responsible person to provide a specific time of completion. Write these deadlines under the ‘When’ column. This creates an accountability structure.
  5. Delegate further. If there’s a lot to do and few commitments, encourage those who’ve not taken up an action to either define new tasks or assist others. This step helps to distribute tasks and increases overall engagement.

Tips to perfect this play

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

Tip: Get public commitment

People are more likely to commit to actions when they are declared in front of a group.

Tip: Specific deadlines work

Encourage specific deadlines rather than vague timelines like "next week" to ensure a concrete commitment.

Tip: Reinforce commitments

Request participants to email you their commitments and send their list of tasks and deadlines to the entire group. This reinforces the commitments made.

Tip: Add WHY and HOW

Extend the matrix to include "Why" and "How", encouraging further clarity in task objectives and methods.


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