Bi-Plot Graphing Assessments

When making ‘choices’ or ‘decisions’, it is quite common for people to recognize only two options as being available: it is either this or that. The same tends to also be the case when making ‘legitimate excuses’ for not being able to do something, such as, “There just isn’t enough time or money!” In short, this is referred to as dualistic thinking – whenever two elements are compared or held in opposition to one another where a choice is being made between them.

Here are some common language examples where dualistic thinking is operating:

  • We can either do it this way or that way…
  • One of these has to be right and one has to be wrong…
  • It’s either good or bad…black or white…

Interestingly, when there are only two options, there really is ‘no choice’ to be made because selecting one merely is ‘reacting’ to eliminate the other, a process of mere cancellation – no ‘choosing’ required, simply a pendulum swing. Such extreme swings in the pendulum tend to miss the array of possibilities in between, where the flexibility becomes possible…such as, simply asking “What might in-the-middle between these two look and feel like?”

It is useful to understand that for genuine choice-making to occur, there needs to be at least three viable options. Recognizing this can be important to leaders and decision makers in organizations, especially when determining budget allocations, future development options, scenario planning, effective mergers, innovative designs and in a host of other situations where having an array of choices is important if not critical to success. Often, people find it difficult to identify possible options or to place the options they have into realistic perspective. Because bi-plots reveal a ‘spectrum’ perspective, they offer an ideal way to start a conversation and exploration of possibilities.

Using this common tendency towards ‘dualistic thinking’, it is possible to take two aspects and open up the field for exploring. Here are several examples based on ‘mapping resistance’ in a system. Resistance often shows up as an ‘either-or’ argument: either we have resistance and, then, ‘justify’ it or we pretend there is no resistance and get ‘surprised’ by it. There are many different ways that ‘justification’ can be presented as well as defended. By ‘plotting’ any two elements on a bi-plot graph, other dimensions of ‘resistance’ can be explored or revealed – simply by incorporating the aspects of ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’ of whatever is ‘appearing’ as so justifiable.

Here’s an example