In the 1970s, Bruce Henderson at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) introduced the “growth-share matrix” to help its clients better manage a portfolio of business units and products. The matrix facilitates management decisions by rating each product according to their share of the market and their potential for growth. Putting each product in one of the four quadrants of the matrix graphically showed which ones were the stars, cash cows, question marks, and pets (cute but worthless). More importantly, it showed the overall position and health of the company and suggested next steps. For example, “cash cows” should be maintained and used to invest in “stars” but “pets” should be abandoned (sorry for offending pet owners, but calling them “dogs” probably won’t make it any easier).
During the past 40 years, the BCG matrix has become a classic tool for business strategy and Harvard Business Review recently named it one of the frameworks that changed the world. Yet it is rarely used by museums and historic sites, who seem to favor the much more limited SWOT exercise. It may be because non-profits are unaware of the matrix but it’s more likely that “market share” and “market growth” are unfamiliar or impracticable concepts. I do like the idea of assessing our work in ways other than attendance and income, so I’ve revised the framework to make it more useful to museums and historic sites.
In this “mission-sustainability matrix,” Continue reading