One overlooked technique in analysis is the ability to see issues from various different viewpoints. It is something I personally have always tried to do, and is a critical technique which in general doesn’t seem to be used enough. There are a number of reasons for this – most often, i suppose, it might be because requirements are imposed (at least at a high level) or because schedule pressure dictates that we just need to ‘get on with it’.

Recently I have had cause to revisit the techniques one can use to model viewpoints. They are techniques which change little over the years, and are none the worse for it. Here then, is the first in a series.

#1 – Boston Box

When I was first taught this, it was called the ‘Boston Matrix’. But anyway.

The aim of it is to help you assess your products and services in terms of current and future revenue potential.

The box is divided to four quarters:

Problem Children or Wild Cats (top left)
Stars (top right)
Cash Cows (bottom right)
Dogs (bottom left)

You then plot the position of your products and services in the box accordingly, based on your view of their current merit. I suppose you could separately plot their ‘desired’ or predicted position.

Successful products tend to start as wild cats and the go round the box until they die or get reinvented as something else – a new product or service.

So, the cycle goes ‘Wild Cats’ > ‘Stars’ > ‘Cash Cows’ > ‘Dogs’

If we take an example, and off the top of my head, Internet access via dial-up modems seems a good example – then we get this:

‘Wild Cat’: Internet access via a dial-up modem. In the 1990s this was cutting edge stuff, and the ‘big thing’ in terms of home computing. It’s not profitable at this point but the is an assumption it will become so. I suppose dial-up could have been viewed as a ‘Problem Child’ also, as the technology was so new at the start.

‘Star’: Becomes a profitable enterprise as it strengthens and becomes ‘the norm’, more and more sought after by customers. Dial-up Internet access as ubiquitous at one stage. It Becomes a big earner.

‘Cash Cow’: Became a profitable and consistent revenue earner. Predictable to support. A market leader.

‘Dog’ : Dial-up access got superseded by broadband and people switched away accordingly. Dial-up is still around but a niche optIon and was reinvented as such.