Offspring of the BCG matrix [and McKinsey/GE versions] are alive and well it seems – over 60% of top global companies actively use such tools, though not quite as in the 70s. Dieter Heuskel of BCG chaired a good session on this at the SMS conference this week. [See Managing for Value for example of his + colleagues’ work.] The panel showed early research findings on the matrices’ usage – which shows two key changes:
- They are more sophisticated than the simple growth/share boxes whose mis-use did so much damage in the past. Business units’ relatedness gets looked at, as does risk assessment. Michael Mirow, former head of Strategy at Siemens and now with Decision Institute, gave a great explanation of how his former firm uses matrix assessment for investment/disinvestment decisions.
- The matrices are not used for performance management purposes, as was common in the 70s, being limited to investment choices and also for external explanation of corporate strategy.
I guess what we see released publicly by matrix users may look pretty simplistic, but this early report suggests there’s some sophisticated thinking and analysis going on behind the scenes. Keep an eye out for a more comprehensive report from BCG.