Ideas Parking Lot Matrix

Parking Lot Matrix Template

Keep team meetings focused by managing ideas, distractions, and side discussions.

About the Ideas Parking Lot Matrix Template

The ideas parking lot matrix (also known as the “wall of ideas”) can help your team capture ideas and issues that need more research or discussion during meetings. 

Big ideas, progress blockers, or unrelated tangents may not resolve themselves by the end of a meeting. This is where a parking lot framework can come in handy. The democratic approach can let everyone take ownership of the material they’ve contributed during the discussion. 

Each team member can point out any concerns they might have. After the main discussion ends, they can agree to take action on what can be prioritized and report back on improvements made since your last meeting.

What is an ideas parking lot matrix?

A parking lot matrix is a facilitation tool used during workshops or longer meetings to isolate distractions or unrelated topics and decide which ideas are worth turning into actionable next steps. Putting your ideas into a parking lot matrix allows you to focus on the immediate team discussion and still recognize everyone’s thoughts and contributions to the meeting. 

Parking lot matrices work especially well when you have teammates in the group who are likely to go off-topic or suggest ideas that may be vague and open to scope creep. Their ideas and observations are ‘parked’ for when the right time and context is clear, building a bank of valuable insights to prioritize or return to as needed.

Create your own Ideas Parking Lot Matrix

Making your own ideas parking lot matrix is easy. Get started by selecting the ideas parking lot matrix template, then take the following steps to make one of your own:

1. Add the template to your meeting board

Simply add the parking lot matrix template to any existing board you are using during a meeting, or keep it as a separate board where ideas can be recorded and referenced.

2. Stay on-topic during the meeting

Pick a topic and stick to it. If anyone in the group jumps to another topic or tangents on unrelated ideas, encourage them to use sticky notes to document on the parking lot. Recording their thoughts acknowledges that the idea has value, but is perhaps not as urgent as the current topic you need to address. 

3. Collect clusters of questions, unrelated tangents, or unproven ideas to follow-up on 

Your team can use the tab key (or ‘Command+D’ shortcut) to rapidly and concisely ideate on as many sticky notes as needed. ‘Ideas under Discussion’ will focus on the most important concepts or concerns. Everyone should feel free to add ideas under opportunities, things to keep on the radar, things to consider later, and things that shouldn’t be considered. 

4. Clarify your team’s action items to follow-up on.

Turn relevant sticky notes into action items owned by a team member with a realistic timeline to report back on progress. This helps keep the meeting on schedule by focusing on future to-dos rather than solving or wrapping up every idea at once. 

5. Make plans for a follow-up meeting.

A parking lot matrix is an action plan for future research, discussions, or meetings. Ideally, the framework should outline ways that your team can turn a hypothetical contribution into tangible value. Set up a follow-up meeting for the team regroup and discuss the ideas added to the parking lot based on the relevant sections.

Parking Lot Matrix Template

Get started with this template right now.

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