Learn how to use the GUT Matrix for prioritizing problem solving in your business – WAU

The GUT Prioritization Matrix is ​​a tool that helps prioritize problem solving through 3 criteria: Severity, Urgency and Tendency. This tool, created by Charles H. Kepner and Benjamin B. Tregoe, is widely used in the business sector and assists in setting priorities and making decisions.

Just like the famous SWOT analysis, there are other business methodologies that make it possible to analyze the strengths and weaknesses, favoring decision making.

One of them is the GUT matrix, which assesses the risk aspects for the business and the impact that each of them can have over time. With that, organizations can identify what needs to be fixed immediately and what can be left for later.

In the next topics, we will dive deep into the GUT matrix. We will see its origin and definition, the main applications, the elements that compose it, as well as tips for assembling yours.

At the end of the content, you will have at hand a powerful tool to make important decisions in your company, correcting errors and reversing the weaknesses of your business in strengths. Liked? So, stay with us!

What is the GUT matrix?

The GUT matrix is ​​a tool that helps in prioritizing problem solving. Every company has several issues to be resolved, and it is often difficult to know which one to start with.

This matrix serves to classify each problem that managers deem pertinent by means of 3 criteria: severity, urgency and tendency (probability of worsening in a given period).

From the classification, it becomes possible to identify which subject deserves to be prioritized. This tool was created by Charles H. Kepner and Benjamin B. Tregoe, specialists in solving business problems. However, more than a methodology for “putting out fires”, the GUT matrix can be seen as a basis for decision making.

So, among the main benefits of the GUT matrix, are:

  • ease of use, being very intuitive and can be applied in any area;
  • support for strategic decision-making;
  • elimination or reduction of the most serious problems of companies.

The limitation of the methodology lies in the fact that it does not focus on how to solve the problem, but on prioritization (which issue should be worked on). Therefore, in many cases, this method is used in conjunction with others, such as the aforementioned SWOT analysis, the Pareto Diagram, the Ishikawa Diagram and the PDCA Cycle. Thus, it becomes even more complete and effective.

How do the 3 elements of the GUT matrix work?

The secret to understanding and using the GUT matrix efficiently is to know its 3 criteria for classifying problems. We’ll see each one below.

GUT matrix

Severity (G)

Represented by the letter “G”, gravity is the criterion that evaluates the impact or intensity that the problem can generate if it is not solved. Damage can be assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively, depending on the subject and context.

Here, it is necessary to analyze all the points that may be affected, such as employees, results, processes etc. A problem can be considered to be extremely serious when it runs the risk of going bankrupt, for example. Other serious effects may include the loss of important customers or even damage to the brand image.

The severity score ranges from 1 to 5, according to the following scale:

  1. Weightless;
  2. Little serious;
  3. Serious;
  4. Very serious;
  5. Extremely serious.

Urgency (U)

Symbolized by the letter “U”, urgency is related to time. The faster a situation needs to be resolved, the more urgent it is. So this is a factor that takes into account the deadline and the “pressure” to solve a problem.

Urgent problems are usually those that have deadlines defined by law, or those that depend on the response time for customers. To make a correct assessment, you can ask, “can this wait?”

The urgency score ranges from 1 to 5, being:

  1. It can wait;
  2. Not very urgent;
  3. Urgent, it deserves attention in the short term;
  4. Very urgent;
  5. Need for immediate action.

Trend (T)

Represented by the letter “T”, the trend concerns the pattern of evolution of the situation. In other words, it indicates whether the problem tends to get worse quickly or whether it should remain stable if it is not solved.

Given this, a subject with a high trend score is one that should become bigger overnight. The question that can be asked is: “If we don’t solve this today, will this problem get worse little by little or quickly?”.

You can analyze problems based on the development they will have in the absence of effective action to resolve them. The growth potential of the problem represents the likelihood that it will become greater over time.

The trend score also ranges from 1 to 5. The criterion is:

  1. It won’t change;
  2. It will get worse in the long run;
  3. It will get worse in the medium term;
  4. It will get worse in the short term;
  5. It will get worse quickly.

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How to assemble your GUT matrix?

Now that we have explored the concept of the GUT matrix and the definitions of its 3 variables, it is time to see the step by step to apply it in your company.

As we mentioned, the use is quite simple and intuitive. Just score the existing problems and then multiply the scores to get a ranking. To make everything more concrete, let’s take examples of real problems faced by marketing departments, OK? Follow!

1. List your problems

For example:

  • annual marketing budget not approved;
  • lack of control of campaign ROI;
  • insufficient marketing team to handle the demands.

2. Assign scores for problems in the 3 variables (Severity, Urgency and Tendency)

As there are 3 variables, it is necessary to score each problem for each criterion. An example would be:

  • annual marketing budget not approved: Severity 5, Urgency 4, Trend 3;
  • lack of control of the ROI of the campaigns: Severity 4, Urgency 3, Trend 4;
  • insufficient marketing team to handle the demands: Severity 3, Urgency 3, Trend 2.

3. Multiply the 3 notes to get a ranking of your main problems

To find out which of the listed problems requires priority, just multiply the results of variables “G”, “T” and “U”.

  • annual marketing budget not approved (5 x 4 x 3 = 60);
  • lack of control of campaign ROI (4 x 3 x 4 = 48);
  • insufficient marketing team to handle the demands (3 x 3 x 2 = 18).

In our example, the budget problem must be solved first, followed by a lack of ROI control.

4. Draw up action plans to solve or reduce problems

After prioritizing the problems, it is time to develop action plans to solve them. For this, it is important to define who will be responsible for coordinating the execution of activities. It is even essential to set a deadline for the delivery of the plan, since you will deal with serious problems.

As we have seen, the GUT matrix (Gravity, Urgency and Tendency) is an excellent tool to be used in those moments when your company needs more clarity. With it, you can correctly prioritize problem solving, focusing your time and energy on the issues that really require attention.

To avoid the same problem that we exemplify in this article, we suggest reading our content on High Performance Marketing and Sales!