The Ansoff Matrix for Life

Ansoff Matrix Life

For those of you who aren’t aware about what an Ansoff Matrix is, it can be defined as a strategic planning tool that provides a framework to help executives, senior managers, and marketers devise strategies for future growth. It is named after Russian American Igor Ansoff, who came up with the concept.

Sometimes called the Product/Market Expansion Grid, the Matrix shows four strategies you can use to grow. It also helps you analyze the risks associated with each one. The idea is that, each time you move into a new quadrant (horizontally or vertically), risk increases.
Market penetration, in the lower left quadrant, is the safest of the four options. Here, you focus on expanding sales of your existing product in your existing market: you know the product works, and the market holds few surprises for you.

Ansoff Matrix

Product development, in the lower right quadrant, is slightly more risky, because you’re introducing a new product into your existing market.
With market development, in the upper left quadrant, you’re putting an existing product into an entirely new market. You can do this by finding a new use for the product, or by adding new features or benefits to it.

Diversification, in the upper right quadrant, is the riskiest of the four options, because you’re introducing a new, unproven product into an entirely new market that you may not fully understand.

Now, while I believe I deserve a ten on ten for the explanation of a corporate Ansoff Matrix but the purpose of this post is to adapt the Ansoff Matrix for life.

To adapt the Ansoff Matrix for life, you first need to understand that every person has his or her own level of risk appetite and based on how ‘safe’ or how ‘risky’ they like to be, they take decisions. Now, most of the time we don’t even realise that we are making decisions because we belong to the ‘risk averse’ or the ‘bold risk taker’ category or somewhere in the middle (which is the most desirable irrespective of the decision you are going take). It’s intrinsic. But, when we go and work for a company or plan out building a startup (because that’s what I plan to do), we make use of all these different models to help develop a ‘strategy’ which will be useful for the company. Knowing that a registered company is considered to be a ‘going concern’, unlike humans who do come with an invisible expiration date (for now), but much like humans, company has a lot of ‘managers’ (read as parents / family for humans), ‘advisors’ (read as friends / society for humans) and competition (read as fellow humans for humans).

While going through the Ansoff Matrix, I realised that there certainly needs to be one for us humans to apply in our lives.
While there can be multiple versions developed on what sphere you want to talk about but given that I am pursuing ‘MBA’, I should talk about skill development as a measure but I shall not. I will try to keep it generic and build something related to decision making that can apply in most situations.

Every decision that you take, it needs to be followed up by an action. This is the Ansoff Matrix of life that I came up with:

Ansoff Matrix Life

“Wealth isn’t about money. It’s about options…and you always have options. Choose wisely. Live wealthy.”
― Richie Norton

If you are a risk averse person who doesn’t like to push the boundaries in most cases, even when there is a tricky situation, you wouldn’t really push for change because you will much rather live in your comfort zone than move out of it. While this type of decision is the easiest to make for there is no change and you can pass these by statements like “Let’s see what happens”, it isn’t the most desirable or the one that you should consider if you want to grow in life.

The next quadrant of the matrix talks about taking a decision of ‘not changing’ and yet taking the action that points towards a change. While this happens rarely but when it does, one should evaluate quickly as to why it is happening because if you don’t, there will be a conflict. It is upon your introspective ability to allow the conflict to take you in the positive direction or let the conflict fester and ensue negativity. Of course, the ‘new action’ could be for the worse as well in which case, going back to the ‘no change’ is the best decision but again it is up to your introspective ability.

The third quadrant that we talk about and is probably the most common amongst procrastinators wherein people take a decision to change but never really do. This leads a conflict which always tends towards the negative because your mind says that you want to change but you never end up taking the action to bring about that change. Worse feeling in the world? Being the procrastinator that I am, I will give you the answer to that tomorrow.

*“In the quantum multiverse all eventualities are possible. Which means, paradoxically, that all eventualities are inevitable. They have also quite possibly already happened. Make of that what you will, not that your will has much to do with it. Because here’s the thing. If you believe that consciousness is an accumulation of memory; if you believe that you often know what’s going to occur either through some animal instict or a human subscription to fate, then you are a walking and talking embodiment of everything happening all at once.” ― Emma Jane Unsworth*

The fourth quadrant and the most risky of the four is of taking a new decision and backing that up with new action. I say risky because if it doesn’t pay off, it’s worse than any conflict situation because you might find yourself stuck in a place with darkness all around you and no light on the horizon. BUT, and it is a big but, if it pays off, the positivity in you will take you to heights you have never seen before.

As it is said, “There is nothing more common than unsuccessful people with talent.”

To be able to give shape to your talent, you need to evaluate every option that you have and every decision that you take.

In the end I leave you with a few words that will help you even if you feel stuck and have taken a decision that wasn’t the best or are yet to take a decision (doubt the procrastinators will read the post but still).

There’s always another option.
There’s always another one.
It’s never only ‘this’ or ‘that,’
The moon or else the sun.

Don’t sigh and choose the greater
Or lesser of two plights.
But look to see the stars beyond
For options vast and bright.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich


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