Impact & Effort Matrix

Goal: Find the Most Efficient Way to Reach Your Goal 

There are often multiple routes leading to your goal, but how do you know which one to take? Before starting down a round-about road, take time to reflect on all the possible strategies in order to find the most direct path to your goal. In this game, possible actions are mapped against two factors: the potential impact and the effort required to implement. Play this version of Impact & Effort Matrix, popularized by XPLANE, to get the most effective results without putting in unnecessary work.


The Game

To begin, draw a 2×2 matrix with impact level increasing from bottom to top and effort level increasing from left to right. This will create a different impact-effort combination in each quadrant.

  • High Impact, Low Effort: The best ideas go here!
  • High Impact, High Effort: Further study is likely required.
  • Low Impact, High Effort: Probably best to avoid these.
  • Low Impact, Low Effort: Further study is likely required.

Ask players to write down their ideas for how to reach the desired goal on sticky notes. Then, as each person presents their strategies to the group, have the entire team collaborate to decide where the ideas should be placed on the matrix.


Why it Works

While it is great to know where you are going, it is also critical to understand how to get there. The spatial organization and group collaboration involved in this game helps identify how to optimize the benefits and minimize the costs of reaching your goal. Resist eagerly advancing without thinking of the most efficient path to reach your desired end result, as is may take you on a twisted road of wasted time and low pay-off. Instead, play Impact & Effort Matrix to map out the most effective way to arrive at your objective.

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7 Responses to “Impact & Effort Matrix”

  1. […] 19. Make the decision-maker the champion of UX decisions 20.Challenge the technical team who say “it can’t be done”. Why not? 21. What can be done? Is it really all or nothing? 22. Is this the right developer to fix these issues? Do you need a more senior or junior one? 23. Try to re-shuffle the technical team, to get fresh eyes on an issue 24. Use A/B testing to monitor the results of small changes, and use successes to support work on bigger issues 25. Share the load – make yourself the decision-maker for some of the small issues 26. Make sure that “small” issues are assigned to someone 27. f you’re following Agile and continuous release cycles, try to build usability issue fixes into sprints 28. Help to break down big issues into smaller, more manageable issues – be involved 29. Help people to prioritise what needs to be fixed 30. Figure out impact VS effort for each issue (e.g. using an impact/effort matrix) […]

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