Problem sorting and solving using 2×2 matrix

1. Why 2×2 matrix?

For any startup, rolling up your sleeves and diving into a new project means dealing with insurmountable and complicated tasks.

  • How to find customers?

  • Where to get funding?

  • Who to hire?

  • Which features to include in your product or service?

  • How much time will it all take?

An un-prioritized to-do list sometimes causes misuse of time and a wrong focus on unimportant tasks; this applies in your personal life as well.

The 2×2 matrix is a great visual tool to help you simply and efficiently prioritize problems. The 2×2 matrix can be applied for individuals, teams, groups, departments, and especially startups.

2. 2×2 matrix set-up

There are many ways to set up a 2×2 matrix. However, to achieve a visual and lively result, we should use a white board, markers and post-it notes.

Start by drawing a 2×2 matrix on the whiteboard with four quadrants. Vertical axis (Y) serves as “importance” axis while horizontal axis (X) is feasibility. More doable tasks will be on the right side while less doable tasks will be on the left. The most important items will be on top of the matrix.

So we have created four quadrants

  • Top right quadrant: important and easy-to-do tasks which normally should be handled first.
  • Top left quadrant: important but harder-to-do tasks. These need to be taken care of early and will require a lot of resource.
  • Bottom right quadrant: less important and easy-to-do, these can be done when there’s time.
  • Bottom left quadrant: less important and hard-to-do tasks. These tasks can be postponed until a more suitable future time.

Other ways to label the axis are: cheap-expensive (cost), simple-complicate, difficult-convenient, known-unknown …

 

3. Using 2×2 Matrix?

The ideas, plans, goals for problems should be prepared by team members before meeting or right at the start at the meeting. Each idea will be noted down on a post-it note. Each member can present many ideas.
Problems that start-up may face are: How to call for 30% capitol for the project? Ideas and plans to increase revenue stream? How to keep quits rate below 5%? … Problems can be strategic goals for the whole company or specific tasks of each department. All the notes will be taped on the matrix depending on importance and do ability. Similar ideas should be grouped together.

After that, the group should spend five minutes for discussion and prioritization by moving the notes around on the matrix basing on reassessment of the ideas by the whole group on importance and do ability.

4. Wrap-up

After that, the group should spend five minutes for discussion and prioritization by moving the sticky notes around on the matrix based on the reassessment of the importance and feasibility of the ideas by the whole group.

Conclusion

Leveraging the 2×2 matrix will help groups to systematically put their problems into silos and quickly come to consensus. You would be wise to start teaching teammates about the 2×2 matrix in order to begin using the tool in company meetings. Best of all, is the cost–a few markers and post-it notes.

Author: Nguyen Tien Trung - KisStartup