IAF Methods

Paired Comparisons

by for . Last edit was almost 2 years ago
45 + any

This process compares and prioritises ideas that have been generated in a process before, and when there are more than 2 but less than 10 ideas to compare. The method is flexible enough to permit more ideas to be used especially when used with a spreadsheet.

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Additional info


Paired comparison is a practical technique for comparing up to 10-15 items (ideas, options or criteria etc.), i.e. too many to rank easily just by inspection, but not so many that the table size becomes unmanageable. However, if a larger comparison is necessary then you can use the same principle with computer aided methods. A single value is used.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • White board or flip charts and markers
  • comparision grid drawn on flipchart and/or as table/spreadsheet on DINA4



prepare a comparison grid as per attachment. 

  1. Complete the comparison template with one row and one column for each idea being compared. Have one extra column for the names/titles of  ideas plus two extra  rows, one to repeat the names/titles at the top and one for the total scores
  2. Put names/tiles of ideas in the top row and the left hand column
  3. Agree on the value that the ideas are being compared against. For example, the most acceptable to clients.
  4. Compare each of the ideas. In the matrix, where two items merge, mark the name of the one that answers the value best.  You can use stars if there is a huge difference:  1 star for a little better, 3 stars for highly preferred.  (In the example on the attached file,  A column of the table above A is much more acceptable to clients than B would = A3. C is a little more acceptable to clients than A = C1. D is a little more acceptable to clients than A = D1. A is much more acceptable to clients than E = A3.)
  5. Once all of the ideas have been compared then total the ideas in the bottom row.
  6. At this point you might lead the group in a discussion about the top two or three to test that they are really the way the table suggests.

See attached file for the comparison grid template and example.


Follow-Up Required: process the decision

Usual or Expected Outcomes: the selection of a single idea to process further.

Potential pitfalls: no clarity about the value being used can lead to problems

How success is evaluated: consensus is reached by the group on a single idea.


Comments (2) ( 3.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • A bit complicated to understand, but could be a way through arguing about priorities.

    over 2 years ago
  • Basically, an oversimplified requirements-ranking matrix..

    almost 2 years ago