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Creative Career Path

From Matrix to Mandala Chart2011.12.06

    From Heraclitus to Hegel, from Buddhism to Marxism, and from Carl Jung to Peter Drucker, the dialectical method of juxtaposing two contrasting variables has provided a platform for deeper thinking throughout history. The 2x2 Matrix is the most prevalent analytical tool used and abused in business management, and is the mantra for many slide presentations.


    This is the subject of a fascinating book, The Power of the 2x2 Matrix: Using 2x2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems and Make Better Decisions, by Alex Lowy and Phil Hood. This book will both make you a believer, and at the same time equip you with the ability to see through false arguments. It is an excellent way to hone your skills in thinking about business and other decisions.


    Like the analytical game of Chess, 2x2 thinking operates in two-dimensions, albeit with moving parts. This can be good training for certain kinds of decisions. However, important career and life decisions always involve more than two variables.


    The way that we normally go about reaching decisions in complex circumstances is to rely on fuzzy logic. That is, talk it over with your friends, take a walk, sleep on it, take time off, or any number ways of getting away from the problem so that you can get perspective.


    Experience and intuition outperforms logic because it takes into account a lot more variables at one time. This is why it is easier to catch a ball or drive a car by feeling, than it would be by calculating trajectories and trigonometries.


    While logic can fail by oversimplifying a problem, intuition can fall prey to sloppy or wishful thinking. The best thinking includes both, and gets a lot of healthy exercise moving in between. What if you still used a matrix, but raised the complexity one level, to 3x3 thinking?


    This is exactly what you do in working with the Mandala Chart, a 3x3 Matrix which places the issue or goal in the center, surrounded by 8 frames for a three-dimensional perspective. The Mandala Chart gives you flexible focus, like a zoom lens for your life. In effect, it is a thinking tool that facilitates fuzzy logic.

    I explore in depth how the Mandala Chart works in another weekly column called Flexible Focus, which you can access online at, or through the Webbrain complete with downloads and attachments at


    Mandala Charts are typically printed out to be filled in by hand, or done digitally by filling in a 3x3 Matrix. There is also an annual Mandala Diary for business and life planning, created by the founder of the method Matsumura Yasuo, which are available at


    Now there is an application shortly to be released for the iPad that will take Flexible Focus to a new level, the MandalaChart iPad, which will soon be available in the iTunes Store, with an English Operation Guide at


    With the seamless finesse of the iPad touch panel, MandalaChart iPad not only stores multiple files of the 3x3 Matrix, but it also enables you to drill down with each of the 8 surrounding frames and create an expanded 64 frame Mandala Chart for a comprehensive view of a plan or project. It starts with text, and the next update will add hyperlinks and images. In addition, there will be templates and study guides made available to assist in creativity, planning, and decision making.


    From map making to drawing, from problem solving to presentation, the application of a simple Matrix has enabled us to make magic in countless ways, by imposing fuzzy logic on what would otherwise be a mystery. We are extremely fortunate today to have instant access to the best thinking and tools developed by our forebears. Its value of course is in its use. That which is unused is useless by default.


    In Japanese there is a proverb, “The large surpasses the small.” (Dai ha sh wo kaneru). Don’t let your circumstances get the best of you. Use the Matrix and the Mandala to gain perspective and become bigger than your problems. Gain the best from analysis and intuition through fuzzy logic. Leverage your thoughts with remarkable thinking tools and templates at your fingertips. Then make the best decisions of your life.


    William Reed


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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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