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We are huge fans of using a four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises to help clients evaluate priorities. There is something about arranging strategic options against two strategic dimensions that brings new (often, much needed) clarity to a business decision.

While extolling the benefits of these simple strategic thinking exercises, we recognize not all major decisions actually come down to only two strategic dimensions.

That has been in evidence recently when making personal decisions having a significant business impact. My mother-in-law has been going through a serious illness, and for various reasons, I have needed to take significant time away to be with her and the rest of the family.

Thinking about the strategic decision to concentrate on family concerns, I cannot point to any typical decision factors in strategic thinking exercises that would place diverting focus from the business in the "attractive" upper right quadrant of a matrix. In fact, the decision involved many things I consider "unattractive" - long car trips, sitting around doing nothing, making small talk about whatever is happening, not having opportunities to exercise, scarcely focusing on business development, etc.

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In fact, thinking about the decision criteria on the way back from my most recent trip to see my mother-in-law, I realized the factors keeping me focused on family over business the past few weeks are ones I would never include in a business-oriented strategic thinking exercise: sense of obligation, ability to be available, and regret from not acting.

Even though these decision factors are all personally driven and there are more than two of them, they are the most important areas shaping my business life right now.

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So while our standard four-box matrix-based strategic thinking exercises overwhelmingly deliver what we need so often, there are times when you have to put them to the side and make the right decision no matter what the matrix shows. – Mike Brown

 

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