2 by 2 frameworks

What is it

A 2 by 2 framework is a simple visualisation technique to help you plot ideas, assumptions, risks, hypotheses etc. against 2 different factors. To aid a discussion and decisions.

When to use it

We typically use them to work through what the riskiest assumptions we’re making at the start of a project. By getting together and creating a list of our assumptions and plotting them in a 2-by-2 framework we can discuss how confident we are in an assumption and the potential risk of it not being true.

Use 2 by 2 frameworks are helpful working alone or within teams. They’re helpful to use whenever you need to make a decision based on more than 1 factor. Classic examples are:

  • risk vs reward
  • impact vs effort
  • confidence vs certainty
  • certainty vs risk

How to do it

  1. Determine the things you want to evaluate: These could be ideas, assumptions, hypotheses, approaches or insights.
  2. Choose your dimensions: The two dimensions of your 2x2 framework should be opposing concepts that allow you to compare and contrast the factors you identified in step 1. For example, you might choose risk vs. certainty or impact vs. effort.
  3. Create your quadrants: Using the dimensions you selected, create four quadrants that represent different combinations of the two concepts. For example, if you chose risk vs. certainty as your dimensions, you might have a quadrant for high risk/high uncertainty, low risk/high uncertainty, low risk/low uncertainty, and high risk/low uncertainty.
  4. Assign the things you wanted to evaluate: Place the factors you identified in step 1 into the appropriate quadrants based on their level of risk and certainty. It can be helpful to use something like a scoring scale. 1-3 or 1-5 to make it easier to score
  5. Analyze the results: Once you have placed all of your factors into the appropriate quadrants, take a moment to consider what this tells you about the risk and certainty of each factor. You might find that certain quadrants are more or less attractive based on your goals and objectives.
  6. Share your findings: Share your thinking and change how things based on your thoughts.

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