A simple technique to prioritise ideas, goals or actions

Here’s a simple and effective technique to help you prioritise ideas, goals or actions with your team

Picture this – you’ve worked with your team to generate some amazing opportunities – to achieve results you need a way to prioritise ideas.

Use the Impact vs Capacity grid as a visual tool to enable a group to identify where they should focus their efforts.

To help a group to identify where it should focus its energies


  • Group members are clear on the first steps
  • Energy is put into the most likely area of achieving success
  • The group builds confidence


The process gets a group to consider where they can have greatest impact based on their resources and capacity to effect change. This prioritisation process should be preceded by a brain-storming or goal-setting process.


Step 1 – Get set up

  • Use a large whiteboard, wall or window for this exercise
  • Get group participants to identify what they see as either their focus areas, key outcomes, activities or goals (as a preceding activity).
  • Write each item on a separate post-it note (or write them up on a flipchart and label them alphabetically on post-it notes from ‘A’ onwards).
  • Draw a X and Y axis on the whiteboard
  • Label the Y axis ‘Impact’
  • Label the X axis ‘Capacity’
  • Halfway along the X axis, draw a vertical dotted line, parallel with the Y axis (i.e. straight up, like at a 90 degree angle)
  • Halfway along the Y axis, draw a horizontal dotted line, parallel with the X axis. (In theory…it should intersect the line you just drew)
  • You should now have four equal sectors in between the X and Y axes (phew…that was hard!)

Prioritise ideas


Step 2 Prioritise ideas

  1. Start with Idea  ‘A’
  2. Simply write ‘A’ on a post-it note, so participants can see it
  3. Ask the group if this is an area that will have a high impact for them
  4. If they answer yes, place the post it note towards the top of the Y axis (i.e. High Impact.)
  5. If not, place it toward the bottom of the Y axis (i.e. Low Impact)
  6. Then ask if the group has a high level of capacity to achieve results in this area (i.e. they have the resources, skills and drive to implement this)
  7. If they answer yes, place the post it on the right side of the X-axis (i.e. High Capacity)
  8. If they answer no, place it on the left side of the X axis (low capacity.)
  9. Repeat the process for each idea until all ideas appear somewhere on the grid. i.e. asking if the ideas is of high/low impact or high/low capacity and placing it in the corresponding part of the grid.

Step 3 – Review

  • Get participants to look at the spread of ideas across the grid
  • Those sitting in the High Impact/High Capacity sector are the ones that they should work on first
  • Next are those sitting in the High Impact/Low Capacity
  • Any sitting in the lower section of grid (i.e. Low Impact) should be reviewed at a later workshop
  • Then get group members to split into teams and develop strategies and actions for those areas in the High Impact/High Capacity sector


Of course there’s now an e-version of this process.

The team at www.groupmap.com have developed what’s effectively an electronic whiteboard that enables you prioritise simply by typing them in and dragging them around an ‘Impact vs Capacity’ grid that can be displayed on screen. The results can be recorded via a pdf.

Next steps

Contact me to get a facilitators running sheet for this process.

If you’d like tailored training in facilitation and planning for your team, check out our base program and we can start talking about getting them practical skills to apply.

Book a program before the end of February and I’ll include a complimentary post-course coaching session for every single participant, valued at $150 each!



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Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

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