Semantic Environment Canvas
The Semantic Environment Canvas will help you understand the language, rules, and power dynamics that make it possible for people to accomplish their purposes in particular situations—or hinder them from doing so.
According to Jorge Jarango, this is how the semantic environment canvas works:
- Print out the PDF onto a large sheet of paper you can put up on a wall. (It’s easiest if you do this exercise using sticky notes — especially if you’re collaborating with others.)
- Give the semantic environment canvas a name. (The name should be clear, but also compelling. You want the language to come alive.)
- Think about who the actors are in the situation. These could be individuals, but they can also be roles within an organization or even groups.
- Consider the relative power of each actor in the situation. Are they peers, or is one actor more powerful than another? How do the actors experience their power differentials?
- Think about the actors’ goals in the situation. Why are they having this interaction? What do they expect to get out of it? How will they know when they’ve accomplished it?
- Consider the spoken and unspoken rules that constrain the situation. Are the actors expected to behave in some ways and not others? What happens when they don’t follow the rules?
- Think about the key words the actors use in the situation.
- Consider the key touchpoints that allow the communication to happen. Do the actors meet in person? If so, do they have to be in a special physical environment? If they meet remotely, are there particular technologies involved?
If you want, you can draw arrows between the various stickies in the semantic environment canvas to clarify relationships between the various words, rules, goals, and so on.
Keep in mind that a semantic environment canvas don’t usually exist in isolation; in a single process (for example, a sales pipeline) one actor may transverse various environments as he or she interacts with other actors.
Jarango find especially useful to pin up multiple semantic environment canvas next to each other; this can help spot situations in which the same words appear under different guises or with different meanings.
Checkout other business canvases in our Canvas Database