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

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

About a week ago, I completed the second live (virtual) training in the process of becoming a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC. Once again, my mind was blown! It reinforced for me that virtual workshops can, and do, work, and, in a lot of ways, I prefer them...

read more
Finding My Work-Life Balance

Finding My Work-Life Balance

In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by… Defining Boundaries “Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back —...

read more
How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

I Landed My Dream Job Throwback to 2014, I had completed my MBA, landed my dream job as a consultant, and was hoping that my new consulting career would exponentially ramp up my career growth for the next 5 years. This would position me to take on critical decision...

read more
Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

In August of this year, as part of our annual company meeting, our team at Thought Ensemble participated in the foundational session of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training led by Dr. Nika White, IOM, CDE (she/her/hers). One of the most meaningful moments...

read more
Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

It is often said that organizational culture is like a fog — it is all around us; it impacts our ability to see, to move quickly, and to deliver; but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Indeed, some organizations see their culture as a byproduct of operations,...

read more
We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

Why have we refreshed our brand, you ask? Well, as we have grown and matured as an organization, we felt that our previous brand elements no longer represented us as well as they could. You see, we founded Thought Ensemble back in 2008 to help companies better compete...

read more
Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

I recently wrote about how company purpose is being tested and inspired by all the events of 2020. This topic is very real for us at Thought Ensemble. We’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters as we’ve navigated the...

read more
How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable rewrote their statement of corporate purpose. I followed this with significant interest being that I have never forgotten the debates about corporate purpose in business school almost two decades ago. We were taught that the...

read more
Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

I love working with companies who really want to make a difference, beyond just making money for their shareholders. I mean, making money is fun and all, but it is even more rewarding to join in on a just cause. Plus, as this HBR article explains, companies who have...

read more