This is the simplest and most effective framework to help Product Managers triage large numbers of ideas

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The 2×2 Matrix, an unsung hero.

Imagine a long list of ideas, limited time, and people.

Consider two uncorrelated dimensions across which you can compare these ideas. Pick what makes more sense to you. I generally use Effort and Impact. Rate each idea on each dimension with only two options: high & low. You’ll find the exercise surprisingly quick and easy.

Soon you’ll have sorted your long list of ideas into four buckets:

  • Low effort / High impact → Low hanging fruit
  • High effort / High Impact → Important ideas
  • Low effort / Low impact → Nice to have
  • High effort / Low impact → Trash

Comparing vs. Measuring

It’s quick and easy because humans are good at comparing things.

Give two objects to someone, then ask them which one is heavier, and they’ll answer without hesitation, even with a small difference. However, ask them how heavy each object is precisely, and most people won’t answer correctly.

Our brain is not very good at measuring things.

Complex frameworks don’t work at scale.

Forget RICE, BRICE, and all the others to triage long lists.

Measuring requires time and effort. It is not sustainable to do so for a large number of ideas. If done quickly, it only becomes a hand-wavy exercise to cover one’s ass in case things go wrong.

Don’t run away from responsibilities.

The 2×2 Matrix can save your life too.

Another popular 2×2 Matrix is the Eisenhower Method.

It uses Urgency as one axis and Importance as the other. You then rate each task on your to-do list as urgent or not, important or not.

As a result, you’ll get these four buckets:

  • Urgent / Important → Do it yourself, now.
  • Not urgent / Important → Schedule it for later.
  • Urgent / Not important → Delegate.
  • Not Urgent / Not Important → Don’t do it.

There are many other examples. The 2×2 Matrix is a life-saver!

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