XY Matrix

XY Matrix Definition

Conducting collaborative prioritization is one of the most beneficial activities to perform on an online whiteboard. One of the best ways to do so is by using an XY Matrix.

The XY Matrix is a template that allows you to map any two variables on a compared axis. On this template, you can organize information to compare how different items rank within those variables.

Many XY templates take a quantitative approach, graphing information on the grid and analyzing where each data point falls. Fresco’s XY Matrix takes a more qualitative approach because it doesn’t integrate data directly into the graph. This doesn’t make it obsolete, however; far from it. This board can be extremely helpful when mapping prioritizations or qualitative features, and later on, we will discuss some of the most pertinent use cases.

XY Matrix Template

The XY Matrix is an incredibly simple template. There are only a few steps to using it, and it’s most effective when facilitating a conversation about the information within. Here is a quick guide describing how to use an XY Matrix.

Idea Bank

The first thing to do is brainstorm some information you will plot on the board. This could be a predetermined set of data you imported to the board or some brainstormed information. What does here will depend on the activity you’re conducting, but it can be good to begin the collaboration here with people ideating and finding new pieces of info to map.

Map Information

Once you finish building your idea bank, the next step is to begin mapping this information onto the XY Matrix. To do this, you need to determine your variables. The variables must be two things that apply to all the pieces of data and can be adjusted on a sliding scale.

Once the variables are determined, work with your team to map all the data points on the board according to their relative positioning. 

Analyze

After mapping your information, take a step back and analyze the board’s layout with your team. Think about how the notes fall onto the board and what that means for your team going forward.

Do they form any discernable groups? What does their position mean for your future strategy? Did they align as you expected?

Use Cases for an XY Matrix

And XY Matrix is a very versatile template that can be used for many qualitative cases. Here are three simple examples where you could apply an XY Matrix within your team.

 

  • Stakeholder Mapping: One of the principal use cases for an XY Matrix is through stakeholder mapping. This exercise asks you to plot the various stakeholders in your business based on their interest and engagement. Doing so helps clarify the role they should play in your operations. If a stakeholder is not interested or engaged, they should be monitored, but if they have high engagement and interest, they should be actively engaged in the business.
  • Product Prioritization: The XY Matrix can be applied to a product/service to help analyze which features should be prioritized. Gather feedback from your most important customers and ask what they would most like to see in the future. Plot their customer profile (engagement) against their interest in each feature to see what future additions could have the highest impact.
  • Marketing Planning: An interesting use case for an XY Matrix could be to plan different marketing channels. Use each axis to measure the past engagement and ideal customer profiles to discover the most valuable channels to reach future customers.

XY Matrix in Six Sigma

One common place the XY Matrix is used is in reference to Six Sigma. But what is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a management process that uses data to help reduce risk and eliminate error. Because of its data-heavy approach, it’s very common to see teams utilizing a quantitative XY Matrix to prioritize key inputs and rank customer outputs.

This diagram is different from an online whiteboard XY Matrix and is a table that calculates the value percent of specific customer inputs.

Fresco’s XY Matrix Example

In our XY Matrix, we created a stakeholder map where a sports franchise weighed the outreach strategy for its many stakeholders. Since it’s primarily qualitative, we can look at the graph and determine how each stakeholder is unique and should be approached.

Right away, you see that the people with the most interest and influence are the owners, shareholders, coaching staff, and main jersey sponsor. These parties should be prioritized in all business-related decision-making due to their level of interest and influence.

Further down, there are groups with a strong influence but not a tremendous amount of interest, like the PR department. These groups should be kept satisfied due to their strong influence.

In the top-left quadrant, there are the parties with a high level of interest but relatively little power. Those are other sponsorship partners: mainly the stadium and training kit sponsors. These parties should stay informed on future moves but don’t have to be included in everything.

In the bottom corner, you have the stakeholders with the least interest and influence. They are the retail partners and distributors behind the franchise. Due to their low engagement, they should be monitored to see if anything changes in the future.

Based on the position of the stakeholders, it’s clear to see how to proceed with an engagement strategy that centers around the people with the most influence and interest while simply monitoring those who have little decisive power in the process. 

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