Who | What | When Matrix

2-10 people

After most meetings, there is usually a discussion about "next steps" or "action items." However, these discussions can be vague and unproductive, with tasks being assigned to people without any specific deadline. To improve this process, it's helpful to use a Who/What/When matrix to clarify tasks and ensure commitment to completing them within a specific timeframe.

Workshop steps


Prepare a flip chart or whiteboard and design a matrix with the headings WHO | WHAT | WHEN.


Instead of beginning with the "WHAT" (tasks and items to be completed), focus on the "WHO" (individuals responsible for the actions). Add each participant's name to the matrix in this column, making it simple and actionable.


Request every participant to identify specific actions they can pledge to undertake. Note these down in the WHAT column. Each participant might have multiple actions they believe are necessary or feel passionate about. For each action, inquire when they plan to complete it.


Remember that actions require effort, and individuals are more dedicated to each other than to tasks. Adopt a "people-first" approach for the following benefits: Firstly, it emphasizes that those present are responsible for the next steps. Secondly, making promises in front of peers increases the likelihood of action, as credibility is at stake. Lastly, it clarifies who will do what and by when, while also identifying those with minimal or no commitment.


While filling out the Who|What|When chart, you might notice numerous tasks to be done. This is an excellent opportunity to encourage those who haven't committed much to increase their involvement. They could help others with their tasks or perhaps their presence wasn't needed. Even though people tend to commit more when declaring actions in front of a group, it's your responsibility to follow up with them after the meeting. Request participants to email you their commitments and share the complete list with the group as an update.

Need help with this workshop?

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Anna Lundqvist
UX Designer and AI Ethics Strategist guiding innovative product development and educational workshops
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Eddy Salzmann
Design lead and team culture enthusiast driving products and design processes
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Ola Möller
Founder of MethodKit who has a passion for organisations and seeing the big picture
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