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The Best 2×2 Matrix of All Time for Consulting Firms

As a consulting firm leader, you’re well aware that within every client presentation longer than 30 minutes, every white paper, and every compendium of content beefier than 20 pages, you’re required to present at least one 2×2 matrix. Failure to do so could cost you your consulting license.

This was brought to my attention by readers who were concerned that yours truly had not presented enough 2×2 matrix diagrams recently, and that I could be in danger of losing my membership in the SSCCC.*

Your consulting firm probably relies on a couple of tried-and-true 2x2s; however, are you using the best 2×2 matrix?

The most famous 2×2 among consultants may be BCG’s Growth Share Matrix. While it’s not a particularly useful 2×2 for building a consulting firm, it’s arguably the genesis of the 2×2 matrix requirement in consulting and, therefore, can be blamed for all manner of evil.

The most widely referenced 2×2 matrix these days may be Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, so-named because it magically helped Gartner become a large consulting firm.

What’s the best 2×2 matrix? That’s open for debate, of course.

A handful of my favorite 2x2s related to running a successful consulting firm are shown below.

Great 2x2s for Consulting Firm Leaders

Four Flight Paths

Illustrates the results when you do—or don’t—find the perfect intersection of your consulting firm’s particular abilities and clients’ problems.

Premium Curve

Displays the four basic fee structures. Suggests that, assuming you do good work, for the exact same consulting project your consulting firm will earn a higher margin as you move clockwise around the diagram, starting from the lower right.

Paths to BD Success

Clarifies the four different types of Business Development pursuit, each of which can be maximized through different strategies. Particularly useful for consulting firms that are training the “next generation” of rainmakers.

Results vs. Expectations

Explains the inevitable client reaction when you deliver your presentation. Also references what many clients view as the closest analog to hiring a consulting firm: tooth extraction.

Over the Line

Particularly well suited for running your consulting firm and explaining boundaries to your team.

Self-Referential Chart of Self-Referential Charts

Indispensable for those times you’re presenting graphics presenting graphics you’re presenting. Also the illustration adorning this year’s holiday card.*

Please share your favorite 2×2 matrix in the comments section below.

(If you send an email to “support at” with a good image of your 2×2, we’ll add it to your comment, as long as it’s not promotional.)

  1. John Ennis
    October 13, 2021 at 6:15 am Reply

    I do love a good self-referential chart, so I will go with that!

    • David A. Fields
      October 13, 2021 at 8:16 am Reply

      Yes, those charts are right up there with self-referential comments. (Like this one.) I appreciate you kicking off the comments today, John!

  2. Mark R Prus
    October 13, 2021 at 7:18 am Reply

    Brilliant! Love it!

    • David A. Fields
      October 13, 2021 at 8:20 am Reply

      Why, thank you, Mr. Prus! It amused my sons, and isn’t the goal of most consulting firm leaders to entertain their offspring? (Or maybe I’m confusing consulting with another profession.) Thanks for posting your reaction, Mark.

  3. Jay Arthur
    October 13, 2021 at 8:22 am Reply

    To illustrate the power of control charts, Pareto charts and histograms, I made the horizontal axis: Dumb->Smart and the vertical axis Information->Action.

    In the bottom left quartile, I put images of line, bar and pie charts–the three stooges of charts–charts that struggled with math. In the top right quadrant I put images of control charts, Pareto charts and histograms–charts that went to college and took statistics so that you don’t have to.


    • David A. Fields
      October 13, 2021 at 8:32 am Reply

      Well, usher me to the corner and hand me my pointy hat, because I use bar charts and pie charts frequently. (I also eat bars and pies frequently, so maybe it has less to do with intelligence and more to do with how appetizing the chart types are.)

      Thanks for posting your 2×2, Jay!

    • JB Rolter
      November 10, 2021 at 1:52 pm Reply

      Jay — 10 thumbs up !!! The practical side of conceptual.
      This is right on target for helping many of my clients’ managers and executives but I’ll need to modify the labels …

      • David A. Fields
        November 12, 2021 at 8:31 am Reply

        Yes, a few language modifications will make this a helpful 2×2. I’m glad you can make use of Jay’s contribution!

  4. Catherine Mattice
    October 13, 2021 at 9:09 am Reply

    Thanks for being so funny and making me laugh, every time!

    • David A. Fields
      October 13, 2021 at 10:04 am Reply

      Hooray for some levity, joy and smiles during our day! You improved my day by posting your reaction, Catherine. 😃

  5. Andy Pickar
    October 13, 2021 at 11:33 am Reply

    Amusing and insightful, as your pieces always are. Thanks David.

    • David A. Fields
      October 13, 2021 at 12:31 pm Reply

      When we can learn, we grow. When we can learn and have fun simultaneously, we grow happily. I’m glad the combo worked for you today, Andy.

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