Frameworks — Pragmatic tools for strategic applications

As product or business leaders we keep looking for answers to some key strategic problems every time. Frameworks are the tactical tools to organise strategic thoughts and ideas such that it becomes easier to comprehend, analyse and most importantly present.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

1. The Two Ends Framework — Two Ends to Start of Everything Strategic

Fundamentally, there are just two ends. And every answer that we are looking for lies between them. You can these two ends, as the two ends of a spectrum. Or, you may also see this as the two ends of a balance like a see-saw. This is the basic premise of the Two-Ends Framework (as I prefer to call it).

Application Example: The Job Role and Expectations

The Product Management role, for example, in a technology company can span through Technology on one end of spectrum to Business on the other end. The PM’s role can involve slightly more interactions with the technology teams, or may be is more inclined to interactions at business level. It may also depend on the phase of company, or even phase of product as to which end of the spectrum you are playing or are expected to play.

Application Example: Questioning the Status-Quo

Have you ever questioned who you are as a business? Are you a Service or a Product business? Are you a product business, but moving towards a service oriented execution. Or, are you a service company, desiring and moving towards being a product business? If you are a service business, who all will be your competition? And, what about the competition if you are a product business? What is typical valuation multiplier for these competitors? Now, where would you want to be in the spectrum? Why and how would you achieve that?

2. The Two-by-Two Framework — Classical Approach to Every Problem

The two-by-two is by far the most versatile frameworks of all to categorise one’s ideas. It helps compare thoughts by two independent attributes and categorise them into four distinct quadrants. It is applied extensively at so many applications:

  • Kraljic matrix: Business Impact & Supply Risk
  • The ANSOFF matrix: Product & Market
  • Gartner’s Magic Quadrants: Execution & Vision
  • SWOT: Origin and Effect analysis
Steve Jobs introduces iPhone in 2007. Uses a 2x2 to create positioning of the iPhone explains how iPhone is a leapfrog device.

Application Example: What kind of content platform would you want to be?

Regardless of the famous matrices, one may also use the two-by-two for analysis of many of the general thoughts. Let’s say if I want to build a content platform, then the two independent attributes could possibly be: quantity and quality, i.e., quantity of content, and quality of content. The four quadrants could then be a combination of Low-High of each of these two, giving a 2x2 matrix.

Building a Content company — 2x2 matrix application example

Natural Extension: Three-by-Three

Similar to above two-by-two where the two independent attributes are distributed into low and high to give a 2x2 matrix, in case of a three-by-three another dimension of “medium” is added to the mix giving a 3x3 matrix.

Multi-Attribute Extension — The Daisy Graph

When you go a level deeper in the problem, you see that though there are just two attributes, but may be Low, Medium and High just doesn’t cut it and there are many more levels which command attention.

Daisy Graph as used for Customer Segmentation and Target Market Analysis

3. The AITB Framework — Carving out the path to where you want to be

The As-Is to To-Be Framework, or as I like to call it the AITB Framework, is essentially a dreamers tool and always pushes you to question the fundamental premise of building a strategy: ‘Where do you want to be?’

Application Example: Three Years from Now

In current business context, three years seems long-term. Often we build on business strategy or product strategy for three to five years out. When doing that, there are some inherent goals that must be achieved. It could be revenue numbers, margin numbers, market share numbers, geographic expansion etc.

Concluding Remarks

So, we saw three of the most fundamental and simple frameworks that we can use for organising any set of ideas and thoughts, and going deeper from here on. Of the two-ends framework, the two-by-two and the AITB framework, I must say, the two-by-two is incredibly powerful.

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