Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

Impact-Ease Matrix

When trying to decide what improvement ideas to pursue, the Impact-Ease Matrix can assist with finding the most impactful ideas that require the least amount of effort. It is also called an Impact Effort Matrix or Possible Implement Challenge and Kill (PICK) chart.

As described in the WASTE Walks course and our Water Walks video, the Impact-Ease Matrix helps the team reduce down the potential solutions to those that provide the “biggest bang for the buck.”

Take the list of ideas and rank them as a team, based on the impact of the idea on reducing the particular waste, and the ease of implementation.

Impact should be based on estimates of data collected during the WASTE walk, from process data, or from expert opinions of those that work in, or manage the process. If that is not available, then the team will estimate the impact.

To assess the ease of implementation, the team should consider the cost of the idea, along with any behavior change required to implement the idea.

Let’s take a look at the ideas from a Water Walk as an example (see above). If shutting off a valve is easy to do at the end of each shift, and there is no additional cost to implement, then the implementation will be easy.  If the idea requires an expensive upgrade to the equipment, and it will take multiple steps in the software to complete the shut off, then the implementation will be marked as hard.

After all ideas are placed on the matrix, the ideas in the upper right (green section) will have an easier implementation and will have a larger impact on the reduction of the WASTE. Ideas in the lower left will be harder to implement and will likely have limited impact on reducing the waste.

If it is difficult for the team to decide which idea to select and pursue, the team should consider using a multi-voting approach. This allows each team member to vote for more than one idea, as they will get 3-5 dots that can be placed next to one or more ideas they like. They could also put all their dots on one idea if they choose. The benefit of multi-voting is that everyone gets multiple votes, so it increases the chance that one of their ideas was selected, instead of traditional voting, which can be all or nothing results.

The Impact-Ease Matrix may not always capture intangibles about the projects, so multivoting allows the team to show support for the best ideas.

As a reminder, this step is to narrow down the list of ideas to the top 3 to pursue. It does not ensure that these will be implemented, as we have been using cost estimates for impact and ease of implementation. Analysis and investigation into these ideas may turn up problems with that idea, or the business case may not be as good as expected, so the dots can also be used to select the 4th or 5th item on the list at a future date.

In the example above, idea #8 is the best idea, followed by idea #7 and idea #1.

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