Saturday, 5 December 2009

Make differences visible!

Last week I read a report from analyst firm. It analyzed a lot of companies and illustrated its findings in 2x2 systems. But all diagrams looked the same. All companies were put int the top right box.
All diagrams looked like:
All companies very successful? Well, nice - but boring. The 2x2 system is more interesting when it used to illustrate differences, tensions and how the companies really differ. "All companies doing well" is nice. But not very useful.

I suggest that if you want to use 2x2 system in you should work with the scale so that differentiators are clearly seen. Then you could see how they differ and what they could do to change.

Here I just rescaled the first picture. And in my opinion much more interesting. I now see that two companies are in the top left quadrant. Wonder what they can do about that? And how about those two companies in bottom left? What should they do?
2x2 boxes can be useful to illustrate differences. And it is the differentiators and differences that can create a movement between the boxes. It is the visible and categorized differences that will trigger most thinking.

Make sure you use a scale so that differences gets visible. And exciting!


  1. If the axes don't mean very much in the first place, then changing the scale isn't going to make them any more meaningful. When I buy fish and chips, I don't really care whether the shopkeeper has "vision" or "ability to implement the vision", I just care whether the fish is fresh and the chips well-cooked.

    So I don't want meaningless differences made more visible, I want visible differences made more meaningful.

  2. Ah yes. Having meaningless axes makes any extra work (like changing scales) meaningless too. And work wasted.

    Fish fresh/not fresh and chips well-cooked or not could be meaningful to have on axes. And if every shopkeeper gets into top right box having well-cooked chips and fresh fish - I assume that it would be interesting to play with scales to see who has the freshest - and who need to work on his chips-cooking process.

    I agree. Many times it is rubbish on the scales. And yet we sometimes treat that rubbush-matrix as a piece of art...