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Decision making techniques - criteria grid

The criteria grid works well when you need to decide which of several options is the best choice for your group’s purposes. You list the criteria for selection and then compare your options to the criteria. Your criteria are the main points you wish to use to make your best choice.

Try to have 5-9 criteria: more makes the process too cumbersome and few gives you less data from which to make a choice.

Drawing a grid makes it easy to document and compare each option to all the criteria. It is also easy to see which option meets the most criteria, so the best choice can be made.

How it works

  1. Identify your list of 5-9 criteria
  2. Make a grid on a large sheet of paper, flipchart or white board, list the criteria across the top, and draw a vertical column under each. Make a total column along the right-hand edge of the grid. List the options down the left-hand side and create a horizontal row beside each.
  3. Take one option at a time and compare it to each criterion.
    • If it meets the criterion, make an “X” in the box where the columns meet
    • If it doesn’t meet the criterion, put an “O” in the box.
  4. Go on to the next option and repeat the process.

The option with the greatest total of Xs is probably your best. If two or three tie, see if you can use them all, or combine them into a mega-option. This process often results in a new option that may be better than those in the original list.

Criteria Grid example

Food prep area Ample dining space Handicapped accessible On the bus line A "safe" area of town Space for additional activities Total Xs
Church basement X X X O X O 4
Park Pavilion X X O O O X 3
Bob's Coffee Shop X O X X X O 4

Variation: “weighting” criteria – If choices are close, weighting or ranking criteria by giving a number to how well the option meets the criteria can help clarify choices more specifically (i.e. 0=not at all, 1=slightly, 2=moderately, 3=well)

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