How to use the GUT matrix to prioritize a strategic planning

Gut matrix and strategic planning
Excel Spreadsheets

Go back to:
1. All about Quality Management
2. Prioritize issues with the GUT Matrix

In this article we will talk about:

The cost of trying to do everything at the same time

If you have or work in a company I'm sure you're facing some problem that can be solved with a gut matrix. Be it in your area or organization as a whole. In the search for better results, there will invariably be problems to be solved or opportunities for improvement.

matrix gut excel

The big problem with this whole story is that I see a lot of people failing to reach their goals and results planned by lack of focus and prioritization. Have you ever had the feeling that the day had fewer hours than you needed to solve all that was needed? If this has been or is your case, you are probably doing a poor job of defining your priorities.

It's pretty simple even. Anyone who tries to do everything, usually does everything wrong (at least in most cases). That's why I am 100% in favor of prioritization and that's where the GUT Matrix, an excellent tool to define what your focus will be. If you want to know more about the methodology itself, I recommend that you read this post on what is and how to make a GUT array.

Just to make a brief summary, in the GUT Matrix you sort your problems in levels from 1 to 5 to 3 factors (severity, urgency and trend). This classification will generate a final grade that defines the importance and priority level of the problem in question.

Applications of the GUT matrix

Originally, the GUT Matrix was created to organize and assist in the work of prioritization of problems, but the truth is that it can be tailored to prioritize whatever you want. Imagine that instead of problems, you could use the array to prioritize:

Like most methodologies, it is possible to make small changes keeping the purpose of use and it is precisely on how to do this that we will speak in today's article.

matrix gut excel

Prioritizing the most important strategies

To begin with, I will use a real example of LIGHT in our GUT matrix worksheet (obviously that in simplified form). I will not go into the merits of the way you develop your strategic planning results. The truth is that regardless of the way you do your PE, you will have a set of strategic objectives that will guide the actions of your company.

For those who have never done a plan, I recommend our article on how to do strategic planning. Assuming I made a good plan in the LIGHT and that in the end we come in a list with 8 more important strategies for the LIGHT which involve internationalization, changes in the course platform, development of new software and even content strategies.

Our first step is to list these 8 strategies so that it's easy to make a comparison between them:

Gut matrix and strategic planning - strategy list

As I said at the beginning of the article, many companies come up with similar results to what I just gotten (a list of their strategies). The problem is when a priority is not set and everything is put into practice at the same time.

Our goal will be to define which are the most important strategies. For this we will use the 3 GUT Matrix ,

Spend Less Time in Meetings with the GUT Matrix

  • Gravity - represents the potential impact of the strategy on the results
  • Urgency - represents the time frame within which the strategy needs to be carried out
  • Tendency - represents the potential for worsening results if the strategy is not put into practice

From now on, we'll go through each of these topics one at a time so that you understand and can replicate to your specific case.

3.1 - Severity

In the case of LIGHT, I made the following division in Problem-Prioritization Worksheet (GUT Matrix) levels of severity:

Gut matrix and strategic planning - severity score

It is worth mentioning that a good part of our revenue comes from a email marketing strategy well done. Given this information, it is easy to understand why this was the only item marked as extremely serious (5 level).

Apart from the improvement in sending emails, we still have 3 strategies considered serious (5 level), which are the internationalization of spreadsheets (today are exclusively in Portuguese), an improvement in our blog, which receives a fairly large organic access, justifying prioritization increase of the overall profitability of the company (obtained with cost reduction).

If you ask me if the other strategies are not important, I'll tell you that yes, of course, but the purpose here is not to define what is important or not, but to define what is most important and what needs to be the company's top priority.

matrix gut excel

3.2 - Urgency

See that not always what is very serious will necessarily be very urgent. It is important to do the classifications independently. In our case of the strategy of sending emails, I marked as immediate urgency (level 5) because we had some problems with our sending, which directly impacted our revenue. That way, the sooner we figure it out, we get back to a higher revenue level.

In the case of internationalization I ended up as a medium term urgency (3 level). I did this for the simple sake of being a time-consuming process that is not as high priority to be done in the short term.

Gut matrix and strategic planning - emergency punctuation

3.3 - Trend

Finally, you evaluate each of the strategies within the 5 trend levels. This time, we see that we have 2 items that are 5 level: sending emails and developing software. I did so to show that even an item that has low gravity and urgency may have a tendency to be important to the overall strategy of the company.

In this case, the development of software represents a variation of our portfolio and can be essential for the future and growth of the company's revenues.

Gut matrix and strategic planning - trend punctuation

If you have made each of the 3 ratings for all strategies, you can already see the prioritization score in our GUT Matrix Worksheet.

Spend Less Time in Meetings with the GUT Matrix

3.4 - Highscore

See that each strategy gets a score at the end. In our GUT Matrix Worksheet, this score is generated automatically, but the calculation is very simple, just do gravity x urgency x trend. Just to illustrate with the Internationalization strategy:

  • Internationalization of worksheets = severity (3) x urgency (3) x trend (3) = 3 x 3 x 3 = 27

How to Use the GUT Array to Set Priorities for an 1 Strategic Planning

At this point the score is still "scrambled" to help you, the best thing is to assemble a ranking of your main strategies. This was the ranking of LIGHT:

Gut matrix and strategic planning - strategy ranking

There is no rule for which strategies or problems to prioritize, everything will depend on the size of the strategy and your team. I like to think according to the Pareto principle (80 - 20), which says that 80% of the consequences come from 20% of causes. That is, try to prioritize about 20% of your strategies and, as each completes, follow the order of priorities.

matrix gut excel

Another interesting view is the division of levels for each of the attributes of the GUT. With a graphics preview you can understand if you have made a good division or if you ended up putting everything as 5 level. If that was the case it is good to review and categorize what is most important really.

Gut matrix and strategic planning - graphics

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