No MBA student or practitioner can avoid the classic 2×2 matrix offering a clear picture of strategic choices when two sets of variables are involved. Some consider this form of portrayal as an art, even as a metaphor for a sort of systems thinking. In its simplest form the variables are arrayed as the x- and y-axes on a simple graph. The generic form looks like this.
I found several examples on the Web. This one points to strategies for service organizations based on the nature of the particular service to be offered.
One can use this for almost all situations where the choices are limited to two factors. I developed a matrix like this as a teaching aid for my Exploring Sustainability class for the Managing for Sustainability MBA at Marlboro College Graduate Center. My regular readers know that I have been teaching a series of classes under this general heading there for a few years. I was there this weekend for one of our periodic gatherings in person. The pedagogy is primarily based on the Internet and on distance learning. I get only about 4 hours of face time each trimester so I am always on the lookout for effective learning tools that can deliver the message in a very short time. The 2×2 is very good at this.
The simplest mantra that falls out of the arguments I make is that virtually all current programs with the label “greening” or “sustainable” or even “sustainability” do not and cannot move us onto a new trajectory to sustainability, as I define it. They can be and are effective but only in reducing unsustainability. Sustainability is the possibility of flourishing–a positive vision of the world, not merely one where the stresses on the Planet have been reduced, but still exist. As I write, “Reducing unsustainability is not the same as creating sustainability.” Aha, a perfect candidate for a 2×2 matrix, like this one.
I have filled in the four quadrants with examples from my book and others cropping up in my course work and off the Internet. I encourage “sustainability” officers or their equivalent in companies of all sizes to use this format in examining their strategic choices and as an aid to create new ideas. I am very interested in hearing from you concerning the utility of this tool and also any items you could add to those in the right-hand side. That’s the challenging half of this layout. Everyday the news has hundreds of items for the left side. Inhabitat alone offers up many stories of green designs everyday. It is rare to find items that fall on the sustainability half of the diagram.