Where the Concept Matrix Came From

In my studies I came across a great tool that was shown to me by a fellow PhD student. He called it the concept matrix. This was a simple document that he used as he was reading chapters from the text book. He recognized that most chapters had 3 and possibly 4 key points. These were the concepts that would be discussed at length during class. So, he pulled out the tool, and applied it to his needs.

When I first saw the concept matrix, I thought it was brilliant. This tool would aid in my understanding of the text. It would prepare me for the rigorous discussion that was bound to happen. It would not only prepare me, but based on the use of this tool the information I was to learn would be etched in my consciousness. How else could I use this tool?

Adapting a Tool used in Academia for Business

What came to me was that if this was a great comprehension tool, I should be able to use it in my business. It could be adapted as a training tool for new hires, or folks that had been recently promoted to a new position. Not only would they learn faster, but the tool could be placed in their own files as a reference in the future. They would no longer have to look up something in a technical manual, but the information they would need would be in their own writing ready whenever they needed.

I then took it a bit further. This thing could be used to aid the instructor as well. Think about it, you spend all day giving instruction and maybe even a test, but do we really know if the new employee grasp the concept? The why, behind the what and how? What if the new hire was to fill out a concept matrix daily on the 3 to 4 key points they were taught that day? Sure, it would help them remember, but it could also help the instructor recognize if the employee actually understood the material. If not, we could certainly go over it again and reinforce the learning. Even better, the instructor could potentially find flaws in their instruction. With that information, they could change their methods or protocol in the future.

How the Concept Matrix Works

This tool is brilliant. I had to use it in my company, as well in the companies I consult with. So how does it work? Very simply. Start with the name of the employee at the top, and the date of the instruction. Next would be the instructor and the area of the company being taught. Below that is a 4×4 column (see diagram) the header of the first column would be KEY CONCEPT, the next column would be WHAT IT MEANS. The third column would be labeled HOW I MIGHT USE IT and the last column would read WHY IT IS IMPORTANT.

Concept Matrix

Results are What Matter

I have adapted this tool in a variety of ways in the past couple of years. It has been a great training aid. It certainly helped in my own studies, and I have used it in the workshops we put on at the company. The feedback I have received has been all positive. Well not all positive, folks resist the concept at first. Once they have tried it, and used it to generate new discussions, everybody has found it valuable.

Feel free to reach out to discuss how you might adapt it. If you email me, I will send you a version you could adapt yourself. Add your logo and customize it for your own use. Let me know how you are using it and what the results have been. I would love to continue to improve the concept matrix.

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