Using a Weight-and-Rate Tool

Often, we move to make a decision before really thinking about what matters most to us. This is where a weight-and-rate tool can help.

This tool helps determine, objectively, the course of action that most aligns with what is important to you, your team, or your organization. If you are working in a group, this tool ensures everyone is looking at the options with the same aligned needs in mind.

How It Works

You begin by listing what is most important to you within the decision. Then you rank each item by the level of importance. Then you score (or rate) each item across multiple options. Next, you compare the relative scores between options. Finally, you reflect on the outcomes and make a decision.

Follow Along with this Example:

Your team is considering moving to a new office space. What is most important? Is it big windows, open floor space, offices, location, or cost? If half the team is looking for natural light, and the other half is concerned about shorter commutes, but you are focused on the cost of rent, then conducting a site tour would be a waste of time—opinions will vary too greatly. But, if your team starts the process with a Weight-and-Rate, then the focus is on the most important features for the collective. That makes it easier to have a conversation around usage scenarios, tradeoffs, and shared perspectives. Your review of locations will be less subjective or defensive, and more objective and productive.

You can use any number of ways to WEIGH the importance of your criteria. For this example, we created a point system, with the total not to exceed 100.

Criteria Weight/Importance
Natural Light 10
Open Space 14
Offices 5
Close to train 4
Rent < current 14
Coffee nearby 2
Cafeteria 9
Safety 12
Ability to expand 25
Lease < 3 years 5
Total 100

We are choosing to rate the criteria of each location on a scale of 1-10. (Here there is no need for the total to balance out at 100.)

Criteria Weight / Importance Location A (Rate) Location B (Rate) Location C (Rate)
Natural Light 10 10 10 5
Open Space 14 10 2 5
Offices 5 2 10 5
Close to train 4 2 10 1
Rent < current 14 10 0 10
Coffee nearby 2 9 10 5
Cafeteria 9 10 10 5
Safety 12 9 5 10
Ability to expand 25 10 0 5
Lease < 3 years 5 10 10 10

Now create each location’s score column by multiplying that location’s rate column by the weight column. Then add up each location’s score column to see the result..

Criteria Weight / Importance Location A (Rate) Score Location B (Rate) Score Location C (Rate) Score
Natural Light 10 10 100 10 100 5 50
Open Space 14 10 140 2 28 5 70
Offices 5 2 10 10 50 5 25
Close to train 4 2 8 10 40 1 4
Rent < current 14 10 140 0 0 10 140
Coffee nearby 2 9 18 10 20 5 10
Cafeteria 9 10 90 10 90 5 45
Safety 12 9 108 5 60 10 120
Ability to expand 25 10 250 0 0 5 125
Lease < 3 years 5 10 50 10 50 10 50
914 438 639

Based on the criteria your team deemed to be most important, the best location of the three available is Location A.

Tips and Things to Watch For:

  • Ensure you generate a robust and appropriate list of options.
  • While identifying a large list of criteria can be helpful, be careful not to create too many. It becomes difficult to get useful relative weights in this case.
  • There’s a tendency to pick a criterion that you can get a handle on (gather information easily), but try to think about the things you really care about.
  • The weight for each criterion is best thought of as the relative preference compared to the criteria as a whole. Thus, scaling on 100% can make this easier.
  • Do not weigh all criteria the same.
  • Don’t confuse the weighting of criteria with the ratings of options on those criteria.
  • Have a built-in check on the process. If scores feel wrong, this is a sign that criteria may be incomplete, or under- or over-valued.
  • The score does not always drive the decision. This is a tool to help improve clarity.

In Summary:

The Weight-and-Rate Tool Helps Us:

  • Think intentionally about criteria and how much value each one has
  • Generate and compare options
  • Prevent anchoring on other people’s opinions

The Five KEY Steps:

  • Identify the criteria
  • Weight the criteria
  • Rate your options against the criteria and calculate results
  • Compare option scores
  • Take time to reflect on all the data, and then decide

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