Breaking Down the Context of the 2016 US Elections

 Breaking Down the Context of the 2016 US Elections

“It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem.” ~Malcolm Forbes

For as much as we’ve all probably been immersed in what’s going on with the 2016 US elections, sometimes it’s difficult to see the forest through the trees. Depending on the pundit, poll, and news you follow, you will be inundated with issue after issue, all of which can be approached from different angles. And, of course, following the sound bites (or scandals therein) of US presidential candidates doesn’t help much either. The real problem is this: just as in any business, if we don’t take the time to have strategic conversations about the issues at hand, using a common language and tools, we will be lost in ongoing arguments based on differing opinions, without ever really agreeing on which issues make up the design criteria for our shared future.

So, how might we begin to have strategic conversations about what’s most important to us…each of us?

In a recent blog, titled “Get Clarity On The World Around You And Your Business With The Context Map”, Erik, one of the co-creators of Design a Better Business, posits that “the difficulty of sharing your perspective with others is that everyone else also has their own specific point of view with regards to the context. This means that it is also very difficult to revisit the ideas you had in the past in order to build on them. Moreover it becomes difficult to spot new trends if you’re always caught up arguing about “the now”. After all, what you see around you today is important. But, you’re not simply building for now. (Hopefully) you’re also building for the future.”

Erik goes on to say that a great way to map out, visualize, track, and discuss the context is the Context Map® Canvas, developed by visual facilitation pioneer David Sibbet, founder of The Grove Consultants and author of Visual Meetings.  In fact, if you zoom out a bit, it turns out that this also a great tool for helping us have much needed strategic conversations while enabling us to frame (and maybe even decide) what’s most important for the future.

Here’s what that might look like for this election cycle:

Context Map Canvas for 2016 US Elections.

As you can see, there is a TON on the minds of Americans! In fact, when you take off the political/partisan lens that we so often wear, there are very few, if any, clear-cut answers. There is only context by which to have meaningful conversations.

For instance, if you focus in on some of the broad demographic trends surfacing in this election cycle, you’ll see that at the very same time we have a huge millennial populace, which may think about things totally differently than baby boomers, who, as it turns out are retiring much later in life than expected. How do these two groups interface with one another? How do they think about some of the major issues? Which issues are important to each of these groups?

Diving into another (crowded) area of this canvas, such as the economy and environment, you see a myriad of issues that people are talking about, some of which are related, all of which are important. If you all we do is argue – or listen to arguments – about a slow-growing economy and taxes and minimum wage and free trade etc., how would we know how these fit into a broader context? How might we work together to dare I say work together to determine which are the most important issues this year, next year, the following and so on?

To do this, we must come together as teams (or groups) of people with diverse and differing backgrounds, religions, genders, ethnicities, and opinions, to discuss the issues at hand. And, it’s not good enough to discuss the issues. In fact, drawn out arguments will probably ensue if all you’re going to do is talk (or shout). Rather, build your conversation around some core elements or theme using a tool like the Context Map® Canvas, to help frame the issues. Doing so will allow for a productive strategic conversation to ensue, one that is open, enabling anyone to take part. When you do, my guess is that you’ll find that you have more in common that not.


Would you like to more about using the context map? Contact us at info@businessmodelsinc.com.

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 Justin Lokitz



Responsible for our USA office in San Francisco.

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