A friend of mine returned to business school, joking that she learned ever problem can be reduced to a 2×2 matrix. It turns out, this is a more common method than you may imagine, beyond the simple BCG Matrix. (insert image)

I spoke at and attended a Notre Dame foresight conference in 2015. The roster was impressive, and the sheer brainpower present was obvious when a principle from The Institute for the Future lead a room full of consulting and strategy experts through an exercise based on this trusty 2×2. To imagine futures, they would plot different variables on the X and Y axis. For the sake of example, call them “” and “”. You can then label the quadrants, plot futures, and broaden your ideas about how the future could look.

Turns out my friend’s joke wasn’t a joke. But the 2×2 model, even in it’s limited scope, left out so much. Most notably it had no concept of time. The range of possibilities for two variables isn’t stagnant. Luckily there’s another business school concept for just this occasion: the cone of plausibility.

The cone introduces the idea that possible futures broaden over time. In a certain sense, this can be thought about as a time series of 2×2 matrixes.

But that doesn’t make sense. Change compounds, the possible futures further broadening over time.

Or it self corrects. Or it actively tracks towards change. But it certainly isn’t linear.

Improved cone options. Talk about examples.

But oh no. It’s even more complex. Correlation beteen variables. Variable rate of change. Black swans!!!!

In fact tail is infinitely fat if you really want to plan for everything. Win don’t lose planning.

Actually, maybe the future is 2D. Just use the dang 2×2.