Making America Work Again: Using a Constructionist Approach to Move Forward

Volume 8 Issue 1

Continuing polarization is expected by many, guaranteeing at least two more years of gridlock on the Hill. I do not believe, however, that this is inevitable. Gridlock can be avoided if a new, Constructionist focus of power emerges in both houses of Congress.



Structuring the Debate Over COVID

Volume 7 Issue 6

The debate over how to manage the COVID crisis has surfaced two highly dissimilar perspectives:

  • Some argue that we must follow the guidance of scientists to minimize deaths.
  • Others say the greater threat is to close down the economy.

The current focus of this debate is whether and how to open schools. Instead of viewing this dilemma as “us vs. them,” concerned citizens should frame the debate as a tension between two key drivers. When these drivers are arrayed on a 2×2 matrix, four scenarios can be constructed that better represent what choices are available to find an optimal resolution to the problem.



Destructionists versus Constructionists: America’s New Political Divide?

Volume 7 Issue 4

Labels such as liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, socialist or nationalist have dominated the political dialogue for many years. But in today’s world, such labels are more likely to divide and obfuscate than define and illuminate.A better lens for understanding people’s intentions and a more useful framework for projecting what now needs to be done in America is to throw away the overused labels.



A New Way to Divide America?

Volume 7 Issue 3

In the coming months, Americans may find themselves divided into two new classes—the “munies” who have antibodies and immunity from the COVID-19 virus and the “no-vids” who have not contracted the COVID-19 virus and possess no antibodies. The biggest social implication of the emergence of two new categories of people is that we may wake up in a couple months living in a hybrid society.



Moving from Disagreement to Dialogue

Volume 7 Issue 2

As COVID-19 increasingly adds stress to our lives, it could either spur greater polarization in our society or become the stimulus for bringing us together. Our ability to come out of this crisis with minimal damage will depend in large part on learning how to better engage each other in a constructive, problem-solving dialogue. The best way to avoid conflict is to show more empathy, be a good listener, and strive to understand what motivates others.



Coronavirus: Facing Difficult Decisions

Volume 7 Issue 1

As the coronavirus continues its path from Wuhan, China, spreading infection rates and fear, senior policymakers face difficult political decisions. When faced with difficult choices, I advise taking an hour to employ a Structured Analytic Technique like Premortem Analysis or reviewing a previous Structured Self-Critique to prevent a potentially calamitous decision.



Impeachment Indicators: Making a List and Checking it Thrice!

Volume 6 Issue 6

How do busy people sort through the noise to determine what actually is going on and what it means for them? The best strategy is to establish an objective set of baseline criteria—or indicators—for evaluating the dynamics and use them to track the discussion. By creating a pre-determined yardstick, you will be able to better understand—and better defend—the position you think makes the most sense. It also provides a valuable middle ground to stimulate constructive dialogue with those who come to different conclusions. And it makes it a lot easier to process what you read on the internet or see in the media because you will know what information matters the most to you.


Politicization: How to Tackle a Growing Challenge

Volume 6 Issue 5

The primary task of an analyst is to help policymakers and other decision makers make good decisions based on the best available information and the most compelling logic. This task becomes more challenging when the recipient of the analysis bases his or her decisions on pre-established, often immutable world views or sees the world as a battle of “us versus them.” Below, I offer techniques to maintain objectivity when offering analytic insights to decision makers under common briefing scenarios.


What If the Two-Party System Collapses in the UK and the US?

Volume 6 Issue 4

This article speculates that change in the political systems in the UK and the US could be startling and not incremental. What if these trends turn out to be not aberrations, but signs of a dramatic shift away from the current two-party political system? A good analyst would ask: How can one anticipate such a political transformation? A good technique for working through such an issue is What If? Analysis. With this technique, one posits a dramatic—and usually controversial—outcome and then works backwards to find a credible pathway showing how it came about.


Frameworks for Tracking the 2020 US Presidential Election

Volume 6 Issue 3

The US Presidential election is 16 months from now, and trying to predict the outcome is a fool’s task. However, Structured Analytic Techniques (SATs) can help you rise above the cacophony of the pundits and better understand the underlying political dynamics.

SATs can be used to help identify the key drivers most likely to influence, if not determine, how the election campaign will play out. I have incorporated these techniques into a five-step process you can use to help anticipate the likely winner.