Agreement and Certainty Matrix

Duration: 30 min - 1 hour
Difficulty Level: Hard
Group Size: < 20
Level of interaction: High
Multilanguage fit: No
Preparation Time: Long
Purpose: Development
Type of Online Events: Webinar, Workshop

Sort challenges into simple, complicated, and complex domains

The Agreement and Certainty Matrix method helps label and match challenges to the right solution, optimizing effort and avoiding mismatches between the challenge and the solution. Challenges can be classified into simple, complicated, or complex and can be matched with an appropriate change method.

Use this method to:

  • Define the right solutions for challenges.
  • See the range of challenges facing people in the organization.
  • Reduce the frustration of people not making progress on key challenges.
  • Share perspectives across functions and levels of the organization.

Steps to apply this method:


1. Define the purpose of the online session and the topic for the learning activity- for example challenges that take up team´s time.

2. Organize the groups by including everyone in the work team or unit under discussion, also the leaders.

3. Identify the technical tool you will use for the activity and familiarize yourself with its functionalities.

4. Design and prepare the online collaborative matrix for participants. Create breakout rooms.


  1. Brief the participants and explain the learning activity, its purpose and topic.
  2. Introduce the tool to facilitate the learning activity. Note: Allocate time in your session for participants to explore the selected tool if they are unfamiliar with it.
  3. Invite participants to join the complementary online collaborative space.
  4. Start the session:
    - Participants in plenary generate items that describe the challenges which take up their time and place them individually in the matrix (5 minutes).
    - Assign pairs into breakout rooms, participants are invited to label their current challenges as simple, complicated or complex (10 minutes).
    - Then, participants discuss about the approaches they are using to address each challenge, contemplating how well they fit and where there are mismatches (15 minutes).
  5. Debrief the learning activity as a whole group:
    - Bring all participants into a common online space and address the questions: “What pattern do you see? Do any mismatches stand out that we should address? What countermeasures make sense?”
  6. Additionally, you can use the matrix to precisely identify the mismatches and any action steps that could be appropriate. Use the same approach for single issues that participants are facing in their work.

Help a planning group move beyond ‘Analysis Paralysis’ into an action phase (with the goal of learning from past errors).

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