Prioritization & Trade-Offs Analysis

We use tools from structured decision-making to separate facts from values and help our clients make trade-offs that are necessary to identify priorities. We ask: What changes (e.g., consequences)? What’s important (i.e. community values)? And, What’s possible (given financial, technical and political constraints). We employ a variety of techniques and tools (e.g. consequence tables, constructed scales, swing-weighting, paired comparisons) to allow clients to work through the prioritization and trade-offs between alternatives in a methodical, transparent and defensible way.

For example, we have conducted prioritization as part of the following work:

Natural resource planning
Site selection
Health impact assessments;
Socio-cultural impact assessments and non-market valuations
Climate adaptation strategies
Local economic development

 Interested in training or capacity building? Contact us.

Our Approach

Driven by Community Values: Every community is different. We start by listening to community members to find out what is important. Then, we use the values that we identify through this process as a framework to prioritize actions that are appropriate, feasible, and broadly supported. 

Based on Local Knowledge: We work with local people who know their communities and regions and are well positioned to generate practical ideas that make the best use of local assets. We then tap into, organize, and evaluate this local knowledge, using methods and tools from structured decision making to focus investment and energy where it will have the strongest impact.

Expert Supported: We step in where expertise is needed by providing rigorous analysis, cutting-edge research, innovative ideas and over 20 years of experience in the field. We have found that top-down, expert-directed planning approaches work only in unique circumstances and typically do not produce the results communities and clients need for success.

Pragmatic and Effective: Great strategies are strategies that get implemented. We hate to see strategies that are nothing more than laundry lists gathering dust on a shelf. Our approach ensures that the people who will be implementing the plan are involved throughout its development, and that the plan lays out the implementation architecture (i.e., who will be doing what, when). We can also provide supplementary services during implementation, such as project management and coaching. We call this “surge capacity”.

Guidebooks, Toolkits and Publications

Development of a Support Tool for Complex Decision-Making in the Provision of Rural Maternity Care
Healthcare Policy

Siting Major Public Facilities: Facts, Values and Accountability
Journal of Urban Planning and Development

Informed Decision Making: The Interaction Between Sustainable Maternity Care Services and Community Sustainability
Maternity Care Research Group

Property Evaluation and Biodiversity Conservation: Decision Support for Making Hard Choices
Ecological Economics.

Value-Focused Thinking in a Difficult Context: Planning Tourism for Guimaras, Philippines
Interfaces-Journal of Operations Research and Management Science

Sustainable Planning Using Multiple Objective Decision Analysis
AURN Series, Center for Human Settlements


The Health Impact Assessment of Transportation and Land Use Planning Activities Guidebook
2016 Planning Institute of B.C. Silver Award for Excellence in Planning Practice in the category of Research and New Directions in Planning

Regional District of North Okanagan Monitoring and Evaluation Program
2014 Planning Institute of B.C. Gold Award for Excellence in Planning Practice in the category of Small Town and Rural Areas

Sustainable Tourism Planning with Multiple Objective Decision Analysis: A Case Study of the Guimara Farm Tourism Pilot Project
Travel and Tourism Research Association Boeing Award

Using Insights from Planning: An Alternative Approach to Assessing Environmental Damages and Cultural Loss
2011 Planning Institute of B.C. Award for Excellence in Research and New Directions in Planning

Compensating Aboriginal Cultural Losses: An Alternative Approach to Assessing Environmental Damages
2010 Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Excellence in Planning Publications (Honorable Mention)