The image below has a series of projects (letters) tracked in terms of value vs risk. Each project is shown as a pair of nested boxes, with the inner box broken into four quadrants. I have never encountered this and would like to know if anyone has seen/used this or something similar as part of their best practices. If YES then additional questions are:

  • What does the outer box represent?
  • What do the four quadrants of the inner box represent?
  • What is the proper terminology/nomenclature for this kind of representation?

EDIT - The graph comes from a gov't of Canada slideshow on benefits realization. The complete presentation is accessible online at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/emf-cag/outcome-resultat/benefits-avantages/page01-eng.asp.

EDIT # 2 - Edited title and content of question to clarify that I would be happy knowing whether or not this is a typical way of displaying information.

enter image description here

  • @Marv - I've edited the question to provide a link to the source document.
    – Doug B
    Mar 26, 2015 at 16:30
  • @Marv - That was my first step. If you go through the deck you will see that it discusses outcome/benefit management and why it is a "Good Thing To Do. The image is an output of some sub-process that is not discussed. Also FYI I have my suspicions of what the different bits mean, but don't want to prejudice any response.
    – Doug B
    Mar 26, 2015 at 17:37
  • Since the meaning of the quadrants, and indeed most of the slide, is not contained within the presentation it is impossible to answer your question. It is merely a matter of opinion, unless this kind of graph is of a standard type, and I have no knowledge that such a standard exists. Therefore I am voting to close this question as opinion-based. Sorry.
    – Marv Mills
    Mar 27, 2015 at 8:39
  • @Marv - If this is a reasonably standard way of displaying information it shouldn't be opinion based. If there is a consensus that it is not "standard" I would appreciate having the opportunity to hear that consensus.
    – Doug B
    Mar 27, 2015 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


What is the proper terminology/nomenclature for this kind of representation?

  • This is a very good combination of a "financial risk vs financial return" graphic with PPM (Project Portfolio Management) report.

    There is no formal convention for the shapes nor this is a formal best practice, however you are able to have a very good management summary for portfolio steering.

What do the four quadrants of the inner box represent?

  • Since they have traffic light colours, they probably mean KPIs for areas such: Cost, Risk, Scope and Time.

What does the outer box represent?

  • In classical risk vs return they mean the investment amount (in $). Since this graphic is very financial oriented, I would bet total budget. (Although it is not 100% sure)

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