I Love 2×2 Matrices

by

ILove2x2s_v2

I’ve spent most of my career in a “consulting type” job, either working for a major consultancy or in a project-oriented corporate role. Consulting typically involves running or assisting on projects that are tasked with solving a specific problem. And problem solving typically requires some sort of structure to bring order to the chaos and credibility to the proposed solution. Enter the 2×2 matrix.

The 2×2 matrix was originally designed by Bruce Henderson of the Boston Consulting Group in the early 1970s. It was meant to classify a company’s business into four categories and help them allocate resources and management attention based on attributes of the business. As with all frameworks, its usefulness has been questioned at times, but its principles have remained widely accepted. But more importantly than the specific original analysis focused on growth-share, Henderson introduced a powerful way of communicating multiple dimensions of an issue into an easy to understand construct.

I love 2×2 matrices. I think they are incredibly useful when it comes to approaching a comparative analysis, I think they are very effective at distilling multiple attributes of an issue together into a clear “so what” that can drive decision making, and I think they can be fun. A couple “proof points” for why I love the 2×2 come to mind:

They Easily Communicate the Intersection of Attributes: The intersection of high market share and high growth is a “star.” Makes sense. The intersection of low effort and high reward is “do it now.” The intersection of cheap and meal is “fast food.” It makes it easy enough that everyone can understand it.

They Show Multiple Options, but the Winner is Clear: Articulating a position with proof points, in a written or verbal argument, can be an effective way to make a point. However, a 2×2 matrix dismantles an item (project, business line, strategic option, etc.) into its attributes to methodically make a point. Do you agree that it’s critical to the business? Yes. Do you agree that it’s cheap to get done? Yes. Then it’s clear we need to focus on it now. It also shows “bad” options on the same page, which can make the “good” options look better by comparison.

They are Flexible: You can add additional fidelity through various sized bubbles or graphics, using the size to indicate a 3rd dimension (such as spend or expected revenue), coloring to indicate a 4th dimension, and arrows to indicate movement between quadrants and the requirements and implications of doing so. You can also show how the landscape of a 2×2 matrix changes over time when matrices are placed side-by-side.

They are Kind of Fun: 2×2’s give you the ability to inject your own personality through how you “name” the various quadrants. You can be creative and clever by using persuasive language, or use current events or personalities to add a little humor, and likely make your argument even more persuasive.

A couple of my favorite 2×2 matrices are below:

The person who did this apparently had a bad time at a DoubleTree hotel. I give them extra points for the snarkiness of including “competitors” that really aren’t.

We created this for a “Thought Crunch” meeting where we challenged the efficacy of PMO organizations. Star Wars fans will especially like this one.

PMO2_v2

So the next time you’re trying to decide whether or not you should use a 2×2 matrix, just follow this handy 2×2 matrix below:

Need I say more?

 

READ MORE

Fake Case Study: Jack of all trades vs. Master of One

Fake Case Study: Jack of all trades vs. Master of One

  Listen to any earnings call or executive presentation and you will likely hear the terms “top line” and “bottom line.” These are words used to describe a business’s performance. According to Investopedia, the words are defined as follows: Top line refers to the...

read more
Your Personality Is Showing

Your Personality Is Showing

There I was, minding my own business one evening, digging into my organization's SEO performance (as one does), when I came across something interesting. Search terms related to "MBTI" — or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel...

read more
Lessons From a Change Manager Who Hates Change

Lessons From a Change Manager Who Hates Change

Hello. My name is Monique, and I’m a change manager who hates change.   After years of receiving “consulting therapy” from various mentors, I am now able to say these words out loud and proudly. But for a long time, it felt more like an admission of guilt. I mean, who...

read more
Creativity as a Cure

Creativity as a Cure

The topic of creative solutioning has been front and center these days as we talk more and more about organizational adaptability in the face of dynamic and uncertain times. For example, I recently read about a project that got me thinking about specific priorities...

read more
Thought Ensemble, a Pariveda Company — Why Now?

Thought Ensemble, a Pariveda Company — Why Now?

Big news over here as we close out the year - we have been acquired by Pariveda, a 750-person consulting firm in 12 markets across North America! We are now “Thought Ensemble, a Pariveda Company” and I’ll be serving as the Managing Vice President continuing to lead...

read more
Thought Ensemble Joins Pariveda Solutions!

Thought Ensemble Joins Pariveda Solutions!

Dallas, December 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Pariveda, a leader specializing in solving complex technology and business problems, announces the acquisition of Thought Ensemble. With the addition of Thought Ensemble, Pariveda now provides holistic business strategy,...

read more
Thoughts on Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

Thoughts on Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

It was about a year ago that we first started hearing about Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (SB19-085) and I knew it was going to be national news. We’d just gotten past the “Rocky Mountain High” jokes, and our lovely state was trying to break new ground...

read more
Disruption Is the New Normal

Disruption Is the New Normal

By nature, disruptors are not popular. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win, then they copy you.” We have all heard some version of this quote, and we have all seen it play out in real life. We've seen it with building...

read more
What Would You Say You Do Here?

What Would You Say You Do Here?

“I deal with the … customers so the engineers don't have to! I have people skills!” That famous Office Space quote from Tom Smykowski cracks me up every single time. I know Toms. I’ve been Tom. Change the quote to say, “IT Team” instead of “engineers,” and there’s a...

read more