Module 4: System Mapping - Presentation

Alternate PDF version: (17 pages, 1.2 MB)2016-274-presentation-eng.pdf

Alternate PDF version: (19 pages, 1.5 MB) 2016-274-presentation-notes-eng.pdf

module 4

Summary: Image description

This image is entitled “Module 4: System Mapping”.

SPEAKING NOTES

Guide to Speaking Points:

The following presentation includes a set of speaking points that directly follow the text in the slide.

The deck and speaking points can be used in two ways.

  • As a learning tool to enhance the reader’s foresight literacy
  • As a presentation tool to accompany the facilitation of foresight sessions

The facilitator can be selective when choosing their slides and speaking points to deliver, depending on the needs of the audience.

SLIDE 1

The Horizons Foresight Method

Summary: Image description

This image is entitled “The Horizons Foresight Method”. The method is fully detailed below.

Framing:

  • Identify the issue or problem of interest
  • Consider the larger system(s) shaping the issue
  • Prepare a simple domain diagram of what is ”in” or “out” as a guide
  • Allow it to evolve over the study

Assumptions:

  • Identify “current assumptions” buried in public dialogue and policy documents
  • Identify key trends people assume are true
  • Summarize key assumptions as a description of the expected future

Scanning:

  • Scan for weak signals of potentially disruptive changes
  • Conduct interviews and facilitate dialogue to understand the system and develop insights

System Mapping:

  • Identify key elements or nodes in the system
  • Describe key relationships
  • Use a system map to identify where change could occur and direct further scanning for weak signals as needed

Change Drivers:

  • Use insights from scanning to identify change drivers shaping the system
  • Do cascade diagrams to see 2nd to 5th order consequences

Scenarios:

  • Develop scenarios to explore a range of futures
  • Identify potential challenges and discontinuities
  • Test robustness of current assumptions and strategies

Results:

  • Explore policy challenges and opportunities
  • Identify credible assumptions and robust strategies
  • Identify key uncertainties, surprises and emerging issues
  • Better understand how the system or issue could evolve

SPEAKING NOTES

The Horizons Foresight Method – System Mapping:

  • This module explains the system mapping step of the Horizons Foresight Method.
  • Systems include a set of parts that interact to form a complex whole. Visualizing systems makes it easier to understand the various parts and their interrelationships.
  • The main purpose of system mapping is to allow people to share their mental models to get a better understanding of the system under study and explore potential relationships and interactions. System maps do not represent the territory in its entirety, as they are a simplified conceptualization of reality used to help frame the foresight project.
  • This module explores different types of system maps, how they are used in the Horizons Foresight Method, as well as general guidelines for and limitations of system maps.

SLIDE 2

Learning Objectives

  • Understand systems thinking and the use of system mapping in the foresight process
  • Learn when, how and why system maps are used as part of the broader Horizons Foresight Method

SPEAKING NOTES

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand systems thinking and the use of system mapping in the foresight process
  • Learn when, how and why system maps are used as part of the broader Horizons Foresight Method

SLIDE 3

Systems

  • A system is a set of parts that interact to form a complex whole.
  • Systems thinking focuses on analyzing how individual parts of the system interact with other parts to produce significant impacts on the system as a whole.
  • Systems thinking is one of the foundational skills in scanning and foresight.

SPEAKING NOTES

Systems

  • Systems thinking is one of the foundational skills in scanning and foresight.
  • A system is defined as a set of parts (or elements) that interact to form a complex whole. Parts are often systems themselves, just as systems are generally parts of other systems. (E.g. Government, the human body, a car.)
  • All parts of a system are related and are encapsulated within a boundary, as defined by an observer or group of observers. A system receives input from, and sends output into, the wider environment.
  • A system can constantly be changing as certain parts evolve and impact other parts of the system.
  • A system can be nested inside other systems.
  • Horizons uses systems thinking to better understand how systems are evolving and identify areas of significant change that may alter systems and their component parts
  • Systems thinking is fundamentally different from traditional forms of analysis
    • Traditional analysis focuses on separating the individual pieces of what is being studied
    • Systems thinking focuses on how the individual pieces being studied interact with the other components of the system—it takes into account larger and larger numbers of interactions as an issue is being studied
    • As a result, systems thinking may result in strikingly different conclusions than traditional forms of analysis, especially when studying dynamically complex issues

SLIDE 4

What is a System Map?

  • Visual representation of the components of a system and their interrelationships.
  • Allows a group to share their mental models (their simplification of reality).
  • Allows a group to develop and test a shared analysis of how a system. may behave or evolve under different assumptions.

SPEAKING NOTES

What is a System Map?

  • A system map is a visual representation of the components of a system and their interrelationships.
  • It generally shows the structure of the system under study potentially with multiple levels (a system of systems).
  • Horizons uses system maps in the foresight process to:
    • allow many different participants to share their mental models
    • create a simplification of reality to scope areas of importance and understand the system under study
    • develop and test a shared analysis of how a system may behave or evolve under different assumptions
  • The parts (also referred to as nodes, elements or components) of a system can be structures, processes, or functions, depending on the type and intention of the system map.
  • Generally the Horizons Foresight Method does not focus on actors or stakeholders in the development of systems maps. Working with these groups often leads to a short-term transactional focus.

SLIDE 5

Visualizing Systems

There are many ways to visualize systems.

visualizing systems

Summary: Image description

This image is entitled “Visualizing Systems”. The image shows four different types of visual system maps. They are described below in the speaking notes.

SPEAKING NOTES

Visualizing Systems:

Domain map:

  • A domain map is a good tool for mapping out and demonstrating the different components or issues in a domain or area of foresight research.
  • It is a valuable first step of the research and scanning process, which helps us to get a sense of what the interesting issues and questions are that we may want to develop into the future.
  • It is useful for identifying what’s in and what’s out of the scope of the foresight study.
  • It is a good starting point for the development of more complex system maps.

Process diagram:

  • If the system is essentially a process, a process diagram is useful.
  • A process diagram outlines the steps in a process under study (e.g. the policy analysis process).
  • It is useful for identifying the stages of a process and how one feeds into another.
  • Each step can contain a sub-system.

Structural system map:

  • A structural system map is a valuable first step in the foresight process.
  • It shows the essential elements in the system, and which are related, but not the direction of the relationship.
  • It gives us a sense of how different elements in the structure could interact in the future.
  • It helps us to get a sense of the interesting issues and questions that we may want to develop into the future.

Causal loop diagram:

  • A causal loop diagram shows the relationships between elements in the system.
  • It identifies the connection between elements through positive or change-amplifying loops and balancing or change-reducing loops.
  • A positive causal link means two elements in a system have an amplifying relationship, while a negative causal link means they have a dampening relationship.
  • See the following for more information on causal loop diagrams: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_loop_diagram

SLIDE 6

Example: A System Map in Practice

system map

Summary: Image description

This image is entitled “example: a system map in practice”. The visual representation is described in the speaking notes below.

SPEAKING NOTES

Example: System Map in Practice

  • Here is a great example of a simple system map. Generated in one hour, this map highlights and labels the key elements in the food production system and their relationships. This map has several sub-systems or regions, including production, distribution, safety, etc.
  • The simple act of generating the map in a plenary session allows participants to understand each other’s perspective of the system under study. It allows the group to frame the foresight work going forward so they are all beginning on the same page with a better understanding of the system’s internal processes and relationships.
  • To see more on strategic labeling see Appendix 1.

SLIDE 7

Visualizing the System at Different Steps in the Horizons Foresight Method

visualizing the system

Summary: Image description

This image is entitled “Visualizing the system at different steps in the Horizons Foresight Method ”. It is described below in the speaking notes.

SPEAKING NOTES

Systems visualization in the Horizons Foresight Method

  • This slide illustrates the evolution of how we visualize the system across the entire process.
  • It starts as a mental model in our head.
  • We develop a domain diagram to inform what is in and what is out of the scope of the study.
  • Next we try to develop a more detailed system map to better understand some of the underlying layers of the higher level domain map elements.
  • Finally, the elements in the system map become the lenses through which we view the system in the scenarios.

SLIDE 8

Link Between Scanning and System Mapping

What are you doing in scanningType of system mapping
Discovering, sensing Initial domain map
Increasing your understanding of the system and what is changing, making sense of changes Strategic labeling of domain diagram
Focusing on understanding weak signals of change shaping elements, examining relationships Initial system map
Deciding on what aspects of the system really matter for the study Final system map

SPEAKING NOTES

Link between scanning and system mapping

  • System mapping can happen before, after and/or during scanning. Scanning helps to inform the system map and can also help refine it.
  • Scanning helps in the discovering and sensing phase and is used to develop an initial domain map (this helps to frame the study and determine its scope)
  • Continued scanning helps to create a growing understanding of the system and to make sense of the changes taking shape in the system. The domain map can then be reconfigured based on this new information.
  • Once participants have a good understanding of the weak signals through scanning, they can start to create an initial system map by drawing connections between elements on the domain map (see Module 3 for more details on weak signals).
  • Deciding on what aspects of the system really matter for the study allows participants to finalize the system map, focusing largely on structures that may be experiencing significant change.

SLIDE 9

Some Guidelines for System Mapping

  • Generalize—lose the detail while maintaining the essence.
  • Find the right level of generalization. Most elements in the system should be at the same level of generalization.
  • It is often useful to focus on structures, processes or functions.
  • Think strategically—what needs to be illuminated?
  • Be ready to revise the map as a greater understanding of what matters in the system is developed.

SPEAKING NOTES

Some Guidelines for System Mapping

The following guidelines may be helpful in making system mapping a useful exercise:

  • In order to be effective, you may need to generalize; otherwise, system maps can get too complicated for the mind to grasp. It’s best to let go of detail while maintaining the essence.
  • When generalizing, it is most effective to ensure that most elements of the system are at the same level of generalization; however, you can have different levels within the same system map (i.e. a domain map will essentially be a system of systems, which can themselves be broken down).
  • It is often useful to focus on structures, processes or functions, although it depends on the purpose of the system map.
  • It is best to try and think strategically and to identify what needs to be highlighted in order to ensure that the focus is on the right areas.
  • Be flexible and ready to revise the system map as a greater understanding of what matters in the system is developed.

SLIDE 10

Limitations of System Maps

  • Reality is far more complex than any system map. Be aware of the limits of simplification.
  • It is virtually impossible to map all the elements and relationships in a system.
  • System maps are used to roughly reflect reality, not replace it. In the Horizons Foresight Method, system maps are used as scaffolding to focus and facilitate imagining and dialogue.

SPEAKING NOTES

Limitations of System Maps

  • Reality is far more complex than any system map. It is useful to be aware of the limits of simplification.
    • As maps become more complex, consider using graphic software or an online system mapping tool. This allows for easier collaboration, version control, colour coding, etc.
  • It is impossible to map all of the elements and relationships in a system.
    • In some cases, printing system maps in large format is useful. It helps people who are unfamiliar with the system to see the relationships more clearly. It is also very useful for stimulating discussion.
  • System maps are used to roughly reflect reality, not replace it. In the Horizons Foresight Method, system maps are used as scaffolding to focus and facilitate imagining and dialogue.
    • Assume participants are using their own mental models and simulations to add more detail on system behaviour as needed.

SLIDE 11

Conclusion: Understanding System Dynamics

  • A collection of things is a system if any one element can affect the performance of the whole.
  • A system’s structure generates its behaviour.
  • Small differences in initial conditions can create dramatically different and unexpected outcomes.
  • Recognize the impact of time delays.

SPEAKING NOTES

Conclusion: Understanding System Dynamics

  • The reason for creating a system map in a foresight exercise is to try to better understand the relationships (and resulting behavioural outcomes) between systems nodes. For example, system maps illustrate how and/or where change drivers or shocks impact different aspects of the system, what the pressures are on the system to adapt, and who or what is affected by change(s).
  • A system’s structure will determine how it behaves as a whole.
  • It is important to recognize the impact of time delays. A change to one element of a system may not significantly impact the system immediately, but can do so at later stages.
  • For more on systems thinking see http://www.futurist.com/articles-archive/10-useful-ideas-on-systems-thin...
  • The next module will describe the next step of the Horizons Foresight Method, which is about change drivers.

SLIDE 12

System Mapping Tools and Resources

SPEAKING NOTES

System Mapping Tools and Resources:

  • Some useful online mapping tools include Insightmaker, Visio and Simple Mind.
  • Microsoft Word and PowerPoint can also be used to create system maps.
  • Whiteboards are a good collaborative way to get an entire room to participate using post-it notes and markers, especially if exploring a domain for the first time, since it is very easy to change and revise in real time.
  • If all else fails, simple paper and pen are useful tools.

SLIDE 13

References

SLIDE 14

Information

Policy Horizons Canada
Horizons de politiques Canada
www.horizons.gc.ca

SLIDE 15

Appendix 1: Insightful Labelling of Groupings

insightful labelling of groupings

Summary: Image description

This image is entitled “Appendix 1: Insightful Labelling of Groupings". The image is a circle with three boxes inside, listing: inequality, fundamentalism, and intolerance.

Reductionist label: Social issues or Insightful label: Social system stability

When labelling groupings and system elements ask: what are some of the unique features that define or shape this system and make it different from other similar systems? What are some of the key characteristics or dynamics that matter? What is the change

SPEAKING NOTES

  • Choosing insightful labels for groups of elements:
    • When labelling groupings and system elements, it is useful to ask: What are some of the unique features that define or shape this system and make it different from other similar systems? What are some of the key characteristics or dynamics that matter? What is the change? (e.g. when looking at issues such as inequality, fundamentalism and intolerance, rather than labelling them generally as “social issues,” perhaps label them as “social system stability.”
2017-10-18