Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I like the Navy Seal’s CARVER matrix, for effectively prioritizing objectives under conditions of greatly constrained resources and woefully incomplete intelligence and analysis.

There are six reasons for doing something (ahead of something else – it is a relative score – a prioritizing tool). CARVER stands for these six reasons.

  • Simple to Understand, no chance of confusion during the action (RECOGNIZABILITY)
  • Easy to Complete (VULNERABILITY)
  • Can begin now – few or zero prerequisites to actions (ACCESSIBILITY)
  • Urgent – Maximum benefit arises from completing quickly, or benefit arises because this is a prerequisite of future successful actions, or makes future successful actions more likely (EFFECT, in a military/adversarial context, this would include debilitation of the enemy today that will allow greater chance of successful strikes in the future)
  • Important – key to attaining highest goals or securing highest values (CRITICALITY)
  • Quick Payoff – total effort will be repaid in shortest amount of time (RECUPERABILITY, in a military/adversarial context, you may also consider the inverse of this, making the enemy require a lengthy recovery time)
For each task, for each criteria, you assign a number from 1 to 5, with 5 meaning the task rates highest in that criteria, and 1 meaning the task rates lowest in that criteria, and 2 through 4 being measures between.
These six numbers are then added together to give a total (the total will be between 6 and 30). This is the CARVER rating of the task. Higher rated tasks should be completed before lower rated tasks, and the lowest rated tasks should not be done at all.
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