Pugh Decision Matrix

What is a Pugh Decision Matrix?

A simple tool for methodically making a choice from several alternatives. It can be easily done with any spreadsheet. The technique often called Pugh Concept Selection. “Pugh” comes from its originator, Stuart Pugh.

When is it most useful?

If you …

  • Have an important decision for which you’re waffling between several viable choices
  • Have a decision that has split your team into camps with no consensus and poor buy-in
  • Have a design decision or policy that keeps being attacked or reconsidered, months or years down the road
  • Are using Set Based Development — exploring several design alternatives, looking to pick the final choice for this version of the product at the “last responsible moment”


This example is looking was looking at alternatives for buying a cellphone here in the US in early 2007. Based on what what’s filled in so far, the Nokia 6682 with T-Mobile is the best choice. But if that doesn’t feel like the right decision, or things change, it’s a signal to spend more time refining the criteria and weights.


The basic steps of the Pugh Concept Selection Process are

  1. Brainstorm alternatives, list them across columns of sheet. Make one alternative the “default” — often it’s the “do-nothing” or status quo choice. This choice is rated zero for all criteria.
  2. Brainstorm criteria and characteristics important to the customer. List them down rows of sheet.
  3. Begin filling in 1, 0, or -1 ratings in the main area of sheet, based on whether that alternative is better, equivalent, or worse than the status quo for that criteria.
  4. If some criteria are more important than others, adjust the weights. If some products are much better than others, adjust the rating weights in the main area of the sheet. Don’t go overboard with this.
  5. Look at what the spreadsheet tells you is the best choice. Do you and the group feel good about that decision? If so, you’re done.
  6. If not, look again at steps 1-5 — do you have a complete set of criteria, or was something important to the decision missed? Are the weights you’ve assigned close enough?

Blank Template

More Background


Here are live templatized versions of this spreadsheet for

Feel free to modify and use.

If you make use of these templates, please help spread the word. And if you can make your sheets public, please put links here in the comments so others can see examples of Pugh Decision Matrices in use. Thanks!

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