Context Canvas

Look for drivers & forces outside of the business that (could) shape it now and in the future

How to use this map

The Context Canvas helps the team expand their thinking beyond the boundaries of the product and internal organization; to have a deeper conversation about what is going on in the world; and what changes to anticipate that may affect your product in the future. It places your business model at the center, and provides a space to explore and ask questions about forces that act upon it from the outside. Start with top-of-mind trends and any evidence at hand, then dive deeper over time.

At the enterprise level, the business is not to be conflated with the product. But with startups, new ventures and business units, the business context and product context are essentially the same.

Start in middle and discuss the market around your product, what is happening in the Economy & Environment that may have an impact. Next consider your Customer Needs, how they may change in the future; any emerging trends or shifts in customer behavior to pay attention to. In Competition, identify other players in your space that are observable via competitive analysis, as well as unexpected competition and new entries in the market.

Demographic Trends consider data on the education, employment, cultural & social patterns, and any big changes happening in these areas. Technology trends similarly look at the changing attitudes and habits that are emerging in technology you are using (or may want to consider using). In Rules & Regulations, note the policies and laws which constrain your product, or may in the future; pay attention to movements in government that could be relevant. Lastly, record any important Uncertainties; "known unknowns" that could have a major impact, but it is unclear how or when.

Revisiting the context canvas will provoke discussion, surface risks and macro-trends that might not otherwise be discussed, often generating secondary research opportunities.

Questions prompting the use of this map:

  • How does our business model fit into a larger market context?
  • What trends and forces do we need to be aware of? Economic, technological, social?
  • What regulations may have significant implications? What competitors may create challenges?
  • How are customer needs in this space evolving?
  • What other uncertainties may create future risks?

Interfaces with:

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