Creative Child’s Game Simplifies Value Decisions

How to Assign Value to Disparate Projects for Equal Consideration

Have you ever wanted to know which project to start next? Did you get frustrated comparing unrelated activities in an attempt to determine which provided the greatest value? The solution is as simple as a child’s game.

No, I’m not talking about a Six Sigma Pugh Concept Matrix to determine which potential alternative solution can more quickly and easily be engineered into a viable product for just-in-time manufacturing.

I’m talking about a simple game that boutique tech businesses use to prioritize projects by overall value.

It’s called a weighted decision matrix and its fun to use.

Picture a simple table with the name of the projects listed down the far left column. Across the top of each column is the criteria that you’ll use to measure a projects overall value. Where each project and column intersects are the letters H, M, and L. The far right column holds the total of the criteria scores for each project.

Slide1

STEP ONE:

Name each project in the first column. Name the criteria being considered at the top of each column.

The H M and L represent the importance level of the criteria for the project—giving it a high, medium or low level of importance for each particular criterion. Circle the level of importance that each project holds based on the given criteria.

Slide2

 

STEP TWO:

Give a value to each H, M and L. With less complex decisions I use the following values: H=4, M=2, and L=1. If the decision is more complex I use: H=9, M=3, and L=1. Then total the score by adding the values from each cell. The decision is obvious—I need to write a blog on Decision Matrix (see below table).

Slide3

 

But many times life is not so simple because some criteria are more important than others, which requires some form of weighting.

STEP THREE:

When criteria are not equal, a numeric value must be attached that will work as a multiplier. I use a 5-point scale to make sure each criteria receives its due credit or strength in the formula. However, when sorting through a large number of projects, I switch to a 10-point scale in order to pick up on the value of subtle nuances for each criterion.

In the below table I’ve given each criteria a numerical value. In the first cell the M was circled and is valued as a 2. I then multiply it with the weighted criterion value of 4 and get a new total cell value of 8. Each cell is added together for a total score of 40.

Slide4

The weighting has clarified what’s more important and shifted the score to a tie. In this case I would’ve been better off using the larger spread of values: H=9, M=3, and L=1 as in the below table. However, the scoring is so close that the decision of what blog to write had an original score of 10, shifted to a tie, followed by coming in second place (see below table).

Slide5

Here’s where the game gets tricky. You have to be totally honest with yourself whenever assigning values to what’s important. Deciding between H, M, L is pretty easy, but the choice is more difficult with a 5-point criteria value—even more tricky with a 10-point value.

In the table below I changed the weighted amount for the third criterion from 3 to 4. Why? Well, since most of my readers run families, small businesses and departments, I thought the category should hold a higher level of importance.

Slide6

Now look at what happened to the scores. The numbers made the decision very clear, but only because I was being truthful about the third column’s actual value of importance.

WARNING: As in all games that use numbers, a person can cheat to make things read anyway they want, which defeats the purpose of playing.

STEP 1A:

It’s important to use only the criteria that are truly important to a project. Extra criteria that’s not seriously weighted only complicates your decision making process.

If you’re an artist, consider some of these criteria:

• Passion Zone
• Stretch Comfort Levels
• Gain Knowledge
• Generate Money
• Advance Career
• Network Expansion
• Develop Skills
• Touch Lives
• Build Relationships
• Fun & Games

The above factors can all impact a decision for an artist deciding whether or not he or she is interested in signing on to a film project. Sometimes it’s worth doing if it expands your network or you can learn something significant from the experience. Other times making money is the number one weighted factor.

In business, other criteria might be considered like:

• Meets Objectives
• Forwards Career
• Meets Boss’ Bonus Requirements
• Generates Commission
• Creates Double Digit Growth

The above list can go on and on, but the idea is sound. Figuring out what criteria is important for the projects being considered helps change the decision from an aggravating dilemma to a child’s game that’s easy to solve with a quick hand written table or spreadsheet.

Members of different departments that make up a special team can also play this game. Each can add a few criteria to the table to make sure their area of expertise is well considered by the decision maker.

The biggest decision I faced was sorting through 11 projects with 32 criteria. Thankfully it was on an automated spreadsheet and the answers were quick and sound.

Let me know what other games or tools you use to decide which project should be next.

© 2017 by CJ Powers
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Empowered by Replication

©KAR

©KAR

During my tenure at Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent), I was taught how to replicate myself for the greater good of the corporation. The process was fairly easy to learn, but it took a bold move of overcoming my fears to live the concept out loud. Those who were given the same opportunity and chose not to engage the process, found their corporate trajectory limited.

The concept of replication is simple: Reproduce your most profitable corporate skills within an equal or lower level associate in order to work yourself out of a job.

Work myself out of a job! Are you nuts!

The concept alone makes it clear why inner fears must be subdued in order to achieve success, especially during a time that no longer rewards loyalty. But restraining inner conflict isn’t half as important as figuring out how to replicate your skills in a way that equals or surpasses your current abilities – Generating greater value for the corporation.

During my experimental stages of replication, I learned that all workers are capable of replicating themselves in co-workers, which demonstrates an ability that becomes more valuable the higher he or she rises within the corporation.

I also learned: Everyone can empower themselves by replicating their abilities in others by following five steps.

1. DETERMINE THE SKILL THAT IMPACTS THE P&L

Understanding the direct correlation of your executable skills to the bottom line is essential to the replication process. In the case where access to the information is limited, understanding what your boss’s and his boss’s bonus is based on can suffice. Whether strategic or tactical, everyone has at least one skill that is directly related to the desired corporate growth.

In my first year on the network side of the business at Lucent Technologies, I was a Sales Specialist, a title held by a few thousand others (the company had 165,000 employees at the time). One day an executive asked me what I was doing. I had no idea how to answer, so he asked a high level manager to interview me and help me break my skills and process down. It was then that I realized my choices had directly impacted the bottom line and the executive wanted to replicate my skills to everyone carrying the same title. It was the first time I understood the power of replication.

2. DETERMINE THE PROCESS THAT FACILITATES THE SKILL

Analyzing and breaking the skill down into its basic steps is critical to the formation of an educational or replication plan. All skills can be broken down into easily managed and learnable elements. This process helps the mastery of the information at an accelerated rate.

I was hired by the new enterprise division at Motorola to sell wireless switches to campus-based businesses. My goal was to sell more than anyone else, even though I didn’t know how many had been sold. After closing my first switch sale, I was hit with a barrage of questions. The vice president wanted to know what I did and revealed that I was the first sales person to close a deal. He immediately shared the process he gleaned from our conversation and every sales person closed deals that year. It was an eye opening experience for me to realize the importance and structure of my process for replication.

3. TEACH THE BENEFITS AND PROCESS THAT DEVELOP THE SKILL

Co-workers require an understanding of the personal benefits gained by having a skill specific mentor, especially when it means more responsibility without a promise of additional pay. The benefits must be tied directly to the skill and not be filled with elusive fluff.

The benefits must also be tied to each process step to validate the process. If a benefit isn’t associated with a step, reconsider the necessity of that step. The why, behind each process step, causes the trainee to take responsibility for developing that portion of the needed skill set.

4. EMPOWER CO-WORKER WITH MORE RESPONSIBILITY

Practice develops confidence in using new skill sets and is best facilitated by affirmation and suggestions that keep the trainee within the parameters of the project scope. The ideal way of creating a safe place for training is to allow the co-worker to fail without fault. As a mentor, minor adjustments can be suggested to help alter the course of failure to that of success.

I received my Six Sigma green belt during my time at Motorola. The training process gave me responsibility for reducing expenses of a key product by $2MM. My black belt mentor guided my process and taught me how to think logically and structurally. He gave me full responsibility for the project and bragged about me to all the right people. While I didn’t receive a dime for my efforts, I did gain a significant amount of respect, which kept me alive during lay-offs. And, it was fun to learn that several people received bonuses as a direct result of my actions.

5. PROMOTE THE P&L RESULTS BASED ON THE NEW REPLICATION SYSTEM

Executives love to hear elevator pitches about how a newly implemented replication process directly impacts the P&L and their bonus. By bragging on the co-worker’s success, it becomes evident how they achieved their goal and the person behind the curtain. Not only does the executive learn about the co-workers new talents and how it improves his team, but he also understands who is behind the team’s growth – A far more valuable employee because of his ability to replicate success.

During my time at Home Depot, I had the opportunity to replicate some of my skills in one of my team members who longed for my position. We took time every week for a couple of months to bring him up to speed with the most important skills. When it came time for my move to another department, I was able to brag about his growth and accomplishments. The man I mentored quickly filled the job that normally took months to fill.

By giving away our skills, we can watch doors of opportunity open our future. With each open door, we work hard to develop our next set of skills and soon find ways of replicating it in time for our next level of success. After all, who better to be put in charge of all these growing skill leaders than the one who facilitated their growth.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers