PayOff Matrix

The payoff matrix is a great way to clarify the importance and sequencing for each major part of your significant change initiative.



  1. Generate a list of major portions of the change initiative.
  2. See if some items should be combined because they are duplicates or subsets of other items.
  3. Number each of the items to be prioritized.
  4. For each item, ask the group: Even though I don’t know the exact impact if I resolve this item, my gut feel tells me it is ____ (low …. high). Also, even though I don’t know exactly how hard it will be to resolve, my gut feel tells me it is ____ (easy …. hard). Then place the item number on the matrix.
  5. After all items are placed on the matrix, ask the team what are the most important 2 – 3 items that we should work on first.


  • Don’t get hung up in the exact placement of items on the matrix. There is sometimes a tendency for the more technically oriented to pull out a ruler and measure off each item — avoid doing this.
  • Once a few items are placed, it is often easy to place the subsequent items by comparing the impact and ease of implementation of the current item relative to those already on the matrix.
  • When selecting the top items to work on, it’s good practice to select a mixture of items that are “quick hits” and those that take longer to implement. That way, progress from outside the team will be seen on a continuous basis.
  • Often it helps to begin by placing the item on the matrix that the team feels has the most impact and the hardest to do. That will help prevent clustering for the end result.