Shaping the New Normal: Quick Decision-Making Tools For Achieving Impact Amidst Crisis

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

by Dae Lee

Impact – Feasibility Matrix

In times of crisis, it is easy to overemphasize the need to act quickly - to achieve some progress. We are prepared to believe that acting quickly means being decisive, that progressing is a sign of being in control of the situation. As a result, we tend to overlook the need for a definite direction, a concreteness of purpose - in other words, impact.

But in times of crisis, the action’s depth is more important than the action’s scope. Quality of actions is more important than quantity of actions. In other words, making an impact is more important than making progress. Therefore, in prioritizing and deciding our next moves forward, we need to assess our approach in terms of impact and practicality.

One way to do this is by using the impact-feasibility matrix.

This tool has two parameters: (1) impact and (2) feasibility.

Impact is the level of effect that the action brings to the main objective. Feasibility refers to how easy or difficult the action can be implemented given the resources and tools available. In other words, impact is objective-based while feasibility is resource-based.

When using this grid, one should start with understanding the impact first and then the feasibility in that order. Between the two, therefore, it is the impact that needs to be prioritized. Actions that have enough resources but no impact to the objective must then be immediately discarded.

These two key parameters result in four priority fields, each according to level of impact and feasibility:

1. High Impact, High Feasibility These are actions that are highly important to your goal and are doable with the available resources. These must be done now.

2. High Impact, Low Feasibility These are actions that are highly relevant to your goals but are more difficult to do given your resources and tools. These actions must be shelved during the crisis recovery and/or after the crisis.

3. Low Impact, High Feasibility These are actions that are easy to do but have little to low relevance to your objectives. These activities must be set as tasks.

4. Low Impact, Low Feasibility These are actions that would need a lot of resources but have minimal effect to your goals. These actions must be forgotten and can be revisited after the crisis.

Crisis Cone

Once you have identified which actions have impact and, thus, must be prioritized, the next step is to break them up into different actionable steps and map them over time. To set the actions’ respective timeframe, we need to use the crisis cone.

In this tool, we map the priority actions in terms of the certainty and amount of information available about that action.

Actions which have greater certainty or have more information are more urgent, and thus, must be done immediately. They must be done within days or within weeks.

Actions with medium level of certainty or medium level of information are slightly urgent and may be accomplished within months.

Actions with the lowest level of certainty with little amount of information available have the lowest level of urgency and must be shelved to be done within a quarter.

Of course, the timeframes set in the crisis cone are not static. Things change; during a crisis, things change more suddenly and unpredictably. A team ought to be flexible in accommodating such drastic turns of events. Thus, the actions’ timeframes need to be constantly reviewed and assessed through momentum audits. In these audits, both the progress and the impact of the actions must be continuously evaluated. But more importantly, the effect of new information, policies and environment on the team’s approach in making impact need to be assessed.

About the writer:

Dae Lee is the managing partner of The Fourth Wall, a consulting firm that specializes in company culture design. He focuses on building shared cultures by using unorthodox tools and methods for organizations to reach and sustain their peak potential. His human-centered approach emanates from deep-seated empathy and disciplined structure further cemented through a profound understanding of the human psyche through the intensive practice of military psychology under the United Nations Armistice Commission. Currently, he is a certified Lego® Serious Play® Facilitator, finishing his Ph.D. in organization development, while giving lectures and workshops to university students and companies internationally.

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