By Dawna Jones

The Pugh Matrix, designed by Professor Stuart Pugh, answers the question, “Which option will most improve what is in place now?” by including a baseline in the calculations used to weigh comparative criteria. The use of the baseline indicates whether the option will positively improve or negatively subtract from what is currently in place.

To use the Pugh Matrix, follow these steps:

  1. Make a list of five or fewer of your most important criteria or conditions.

    More than five and the list gets cumbersome. Ten is way too many.

  2. As you consider each criterion and each option, ask, “Will the result be better or worse than the current system?”

    If the option is better than the current system, assign it a +1. If it is worse, assign it a –1. The table shows an example of the Pugh Matrix in action.

  3. Tally the pluses and minuses to see which is the best option.

    In this example, Option 3 dominates with three pluses and one minus, making it the logical choice.

Assessing Options, Using the Pugh Matrix
Criteria Baseline (What We Have Now) Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
1 0 +1 –1 +1
2 0 +1 +1 –1
3 0 –1 –1 +1
4 0 –1 –1 +1