All facilitators have a favourite basic diagram they instinctively draw in times of need.

For me, it’s the 2×2 – simple, elegant, endlessly applicable. When I woke this morning to the realisation I needed to radically redesign my content strategy to accommodate my new vision quirks, of course I began by drawing that simple cross.

20 minutes and a cup of tea later, I had a new strategy that responded to my new needs.

Grab your post its or virtual whiteboard, pick your puzzling decision, and let’s get cracking.

Step 1: Select your axes

To pick your axes, you need to get clear on what will guide your decision-making.

There will be a lot of factors you want to consider, but you can only choose 2 – one for the x-axis, one for the y-axis. This might feel hard! That’s ok! The point of narrowing down is not to discount the importance of the other factors, but to help you focus on what matters most to you at this moment.

Bonus points if you can express each axis as a spectrum where each end has something to offer, rather than an obvious good end / bad end.

Step 2: Locate your options

Brainstorm the options you are chewing over.

One option per post-it; the more specific the better. Now locate each item on the 2×2. This is not just sorting into 4 piles. Treat each axis as a spectrum – an option positioned in the far corner of a quadrant has a very different meaning to one tucked into the central corner.

As you sort, consider how each option fits on each axis and how it relates to other options on the board.

Step 3: Choose your path

By now, you should sense a pattern emerging – there will likely be a quadrant you are drawn to, and one you are leaning away from.

Your next steps depends on the problem. It might be prioritising the options in the far corner of your preferred quadrant. It may be selecting a mix of options that represent each quadrant. You might move through the quadrants in an order.

One diagram. 2 lines. Millions of possibilities.