Simplifying the Complex

Some call it a matrix, others a two-by-two diagram. I call them awesome.

Two-by-twos allow you to plot complex information in a matter that allows you not only to see the relationship between two things, but also to make better judgments and decisions. I often use these during brainstorming sessions with clients as a way to filter our stacks of great ideas to the fewer, bigger, and better solutions.

How to Use Them

1. Determine the two important qualities you want to use to measure or filter your ideas.

For example: We want to better understand the relationship between employee sales and their customer service scores. This two-by-two would begin something like this:

Service Score versus Sales
2. Next, I’ll plot where each team member according to both their sales and their service score.

Employees Plotted by Service Score versus Sales
We can see Julia ranks where we hope all of our employees would be – she is making high sales and earning a high customer service score.

We can also use two-by-twos as a diagnostic tool to understand where adjustments are needed. Looking at the diagram, we can see that Winston needs help with customer service. O’Brien needs both sales and service help.

Desired Area on Service Score versus Sales
You can plot anything. Other measures you may find helpful include:

Product Measurement
Which products are profitable to which customers?
PLOT: Product Profitability -and- Customer Type

Customer Service
Which aspects of our service needs to be worked on?
PLOT: Degree of Importance to Customer -and- Satisfaction Levels

Television Ads Ranking
Which commercials are connecting with customers?
PLOT: How Memorable -and- Relevance

Marketing Promotion Logistics
Which marketing promotion is easiest to implement?
PLOT: Ease of Implementation -and- Investment

Innovation Gauge
Let’s prioritize our innovative ideas.
PLOT: Remarkability of Idea -and- Difficulty to Implement

Two-by-twos are simple, effective, and versatile – they make it possible to plot nearly anything. Give them a try!


Paul WilliamsPaul Williams is a professional problem solver at Idea Sandbox. He can help you create remarkable ideas to grow your business. You may read more at his website and find him Twittering as @IdeaSandbox.

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