The agreement/certainty matrix
Big Business
The agreement/certainty matrix

The agreement/certainty matrix
A complexity based tool to support you in assessing your activities and decisions

The big idea

The idea was originated by Ralph Stacey as a result of his interest in complexity and how organisations change over time. The model, sometimes referred to as the Stacey Matrix, considers organisations from the perspectives of levels of agreement and levels of certainty.

Certainty is driven by the quality of available information that supports management and decision making. Agreement recognises that enterprises are socially-based and dependent on negotiation for their activities.


The matrix encourages you to reflect on the relative levels of certainty and agreement in your enterprise, activities or in a particular project. Using the matrix can support:

  • Decision making
  • Stakeholder management
  • Communicating why particular approaches are being used
  • Encouraging creativity and considering different perspectives

The Tool

The approach involves plotting your projects, decisions or activities on the certainty/agreement axes. Depending on where the projects or activities are placed, a different response is needed in terms of management and decision making. You can use the tool on your own or with a group. It is suitable for businesses of all scales. Depending on how much of your business you are looking at, it may take up to two hours to complete.