Creativity is a force that drives innovation and progress in various fields. As creators, entrepreneurs or visionaries, we are often inspired by countless ideas bubbling with potential. But the journey from a creative idea to a realized innovation can be daunting, as not every idea translates smoothly into a tangible result.
Because we too often place a high priority on realization and too often ignore creative ideas where we can’t directly see the realization, we here explore the concept of the 2×2 matrix that compiles “Creative Height” and “Realization” as a practical tool for balancing and navigating the path from idea to execution. In the refinement of ideas, this is one of my most used tools.
What is the 2×2 Matrix: Creative Height vs Realization?
The 2×2 Matrix, or the “four fielder”, is a simple and effective tool that can help us map ideas and their potential towards realization.
On the vertical axis, we measure the “creative height” of an idea, which indicates its level of surprise, uniqueness and how “different” the idea is. On the horizontal axis, we assess ‘realization’, the obvious potential as well as the resources required and the likelihood of successfully bringing the idea to life.
Quadrant 1: High creative height, high realization
Ideas found in the upper right quadrant are the most desirable—those with both high creative potential and a clear path to realization. These ideas perfectly align with the organization’s mission or our personal vision while having the necessary resources and expertise to bring them to life. Coming across ideas that are (honestly) in this quadrant is mostly dependent on if you used creativity methods when generating ideas. If you only poll your brain for ideas, however, you rarely end up in this quadrant.
These ideas can lead to breakthrough innovations and significant successes and are always the most important, if you have any ideas in this quadrant that is.
Quadrant 2: High creative height, low realization
The upper left quadrant is home to ideas that are highly creative and inspiring but face challenges in implementation.
Ideas end up here that feel a bit like “fantasies”, fantastic but we don’t see how we could realize them.
It turns out that this is often the most interesting quadrant! It is often easier to take a creative idea and make it more feasible. It is about solving a number of problems or getting help from others. This is what our brain often is very good at.
Quadrant 3: Low creative height, high realization
Ideas that end up in the lower right quadrant are usually safe and practical, with a high probability of being possible to implement. The problem with these ideas is usually that others can think of them too. The lack of creative height makes them uninteresting.
Unfortunately, it has also been shown that our brains are bad at taking a feasible idea and then making it more creative. When our brains have something we believe in, it’s hard to let parts of it go and think anew.
It is also in this quadrant that the ideas “feel good”. Because we see how we can implement them and they don’t stand out, we feel safe, but from an innovation perspective this is treacherous.
Quadrant 4: Low creative height, low realization
The lower left quadrant represents ideas with limited creative potential and significant barriers to realization. You need to dare to distance yourself from these ideas because they do not add innovation. You can save them if you want to revisit them later and maybe combine them with other ideas when the creative ideas are more developed.
Applying the matrix: Focus on creative height first
The power of the 2×2 matrix lies in its ability to guide decision making and resource allocation. By categorizing ideas into different quadrants, we can identify the ideas that need our attention to move them forward. Here are some tips for navigating the creative heights:
Invest in Quadrant 1
Allocate resources and effort to ideas in the upper right quadrant that offer both creative potential and realistic paths to realization. These ideas are your “Just do it” ideas.
Idea development in quadrant 2
Ideas with high creative heights and low realization points are where you should put your idea development focus. You should not dismiss these ideas!
Find ways to make them feasible and bridge the gap, seek collaborations or incremental developments to bring them closer to reality.
Even if you sacrifice the creative height, these ideas will often retain enough creative height to be better than those with mere high realization.
Combine with quadrant 3
Ideas in the lower right quadrant may lack innovation, but they are easy to implement. Implement them to create small innovation gains, delegate them to others, or use them to combine them with creative ideas to create increased feasibility of the creative ideas!
Evaluate quadrant 4
Ideas in the lower left quadrant may not be worth pursuing. Keep an open mind, but prioritize those with greater potential for impact and fulfillment.
The 2×2 matrix of creative height vs. realization thus serves as a helpful tool for navigating the complex landscape of idea evaluation and implementation. By understanding where our ideas fit in this matrix, we can avoid weeding out high creative pitch ideas just because we don’t yet see how they can be executed.
This helps us make informed decisions for innovation instead of prioritizing resources for things that don’t matter but might sound good.
Embrace the power of this simple framework to unleash the full potential of your creative journey and bring visionary ideas to life.