Analytic Technique: Matrices

Fun with Spreadsheets–said almost no one ever.

If by chance you are a nerd like me who likes this kind of thing lets dive in.

A matrix-think spreadsheet-is a grid with as many cells as required to sort data and gain insight. Matrices are helpful when there are more options or more intricate data than can be conceptualized at one time without a visual representation. When you can reduce data to a matrix it helps with visualization and we all like pictures right?

This method is also helpful if you have sorted your data first. This is because if you can have defined categories that don’t change it works better.

If it makes since for your problem set then color code things.

Practical Example:

Lets take a risk matrix for this example. You may have seen one of these before, but it works for our purpose here.

This matrix was done with a simple distribution. This may not work for your situation or problem set .

Risk MatrixIf we look at the two headers, Probability and Severity we can come up with a quantifiable metric for a given action.

We can compare this matrix to the data we used in the last example and determine the likelihood of a sexual assault in a private school in the Chicago metro area in 2017. Well According to the data there were only 5, of those 5 one was classified as predatory. Additionally there were a total of 414 alleged crimes in private schools in 2017. So solely based on the numbers it would seem the probability is low, but it exists, so I would give it a 4. (as a side note if you are developing a risk matrix for your organization it is smart to define what the probability scale and severity scale is. for this example we are going to be subjective) For severity again based on the numbers 1 out of 5 was predatory, so there is the capability for a high severity rating. I’m going to rate it a “B”.

So now we have a score of 4B giving us a High risk…. Not what I was expecting.

Remember it’s important to make the evidence match expectations. Don’t chase the answer you are looking for.



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