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Ralph Stacey’s Agreement and Certainty Matrix

Ralph Stacey’s Agreement and Certainty Matrix

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Ralph Stacey’s Agreement and Certainty Matrix is a tool for helping you adapt and adopt processes more effectively.

Rick Stacey Agreement and Certainty Matrix

It helps you make more informed decisions by looking at two dimensions:

  • The degree of certainty
  • The level of agreement 

Rather than just rolling out changes in processes or tools and hoping for the best, or getting mired in politics and bureaucracy, Ralph Stacey’s agreement and certainty matrix helps you choose the most effective management actions.

This tool is more effective where you have significant diversity in complexity (levels of agreement and degrees of certainty) and where you have a wide range of approaches you can take (versus the one-size fits all approach.)

The Five Zones of Agreement and Certainty
Here is a quick visual of the five zones of agreement and certainty:

  Rick Stacey Agreement and Certainty Matrix - 5 Zones

Zone Notes
1. Close to Agreement, Close to Certainty You have agreement on the outcomes and you are certain how to get there. Plan actions to achieve outcomes and monitor the results against the plans. Repeat what works.
2. Far from Agreement, Close to Certainty You have certainty on how to achieve outcomes, but you don't have agreement on the outcomes you want. Plans and shared missions don't work. This is where people play politics. Coalition building, negotiation, and compromise are used for agendas and direction.
3. Close to Agreement, Far from Certainty You have agreement on the outcomes you want, but aren't certaint how to get there. Monitoring against a plan won't work. A shared mission or vision might work. The goal is to head towards the end-in-mind, even though you don't know the specific paths up front.
4. Far from Agreement, Far from Certainty (Anarchy) You have a high level of uncertainty and disagreement. Traditional methods of planning, visioning and negotiation are ineffective. What happens here is often avoidance (avoiding the issues where there is disagreement and uncertainty.) This is a short-term protective strategy that leads to long-term disaster.
5. The Edge of Chaos (The Zone of Complexity) This is where traditional management approaches are ineffective, but this is where you can use innovation and creativity to break with the past to create new modes of operating.

For more information on Ralph Stacey’s Agreement and Certainty Model, see Edgeware – Aides.