Alternate Version: PDF Version (11 pages, 272 KB) 2016-274-guide_systemmapping-eng.pdf
OBJECTIVE: TO DEFINE AND UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ELEMENTS IN A SYSTEM.
This exercise helps simplify a complex topic into the most critical components for understanding the changes acting upon it. Like a domain map, it can help a group of participants develop a shared mental model of their subject and delineate the boundaries of a system. A group of participants can generate a simple system map in a little over an hour.
- 1 facilitator
- 4-25 participants (divided into groups of 4–7)
- 1-2 assistants (optional)
- Whiteboard, smartboard or flipchart for each group
- Suitable markers for each group
- Projector/computer (optional)
- Sticky notes for each group, in various colours
Post on the wall:
- A visual agenda (optional)
- Rules of engagement (optional)
- 2 headings on sticky notes (optional): What worked? What could be better?
A large room with a large whiteboard (or several flipcharts). Seating for all, conducive to both hearing other
participants and seeing the whiteboard. Use breakout rooms for group work if available.
|5 MIN||1. General meeting instructions (if needed)|
2. Give context for the system map exercise (3 minutes)
|10 MIN||7. Reflect on and/or evaluate the exercise (10 minutes)|
EST. TOTAL TIME: 80 minutes
Before the meeting: from domain mapping to more complex system mapping
Once the scope of a foresight project has been defined through a domain map, the team can examine the system in more depth. For some studies, it is possible that the domain is the system to be understood. For others, it may be smaller systems within the domain. For example, a study on the future of immigration could seek to understand the domain of immigration as a general system of actors, processes, functions and structures. Alternatively, the domain of immigration could also be understood as a grouping of smaller systems such as migration of skilled workers, family reunification, refugee resettlement, temporary foreign work, student visas, etc., each
with their own actors, processes, functions and structures. The choice of system depends on the research interest. As an organization serving the broad cross-departmental interests of the Government of Canada, Horizons often explores broad domains containing more than one system and sometimes many systems.
This guide is written for facilitators running several breakout sessions to map different systems. An alternative is to have breakout groups (or individuals) develop maps of the same system, for discussion at the end. Comparing different versions can inform a more refined final system map (if desired). Each of these variations will offer some degree of system learning, to the extent that participants can think through the parts and connections in the system and hear how others understand it.
Example: A system map of values
Summary : Image Description
This image is titled "a system map of values". It is a photograph of sticky notes assembled on a wall forming a system map.
Build your own system map
It is a good idea for the facilitator to have prepared a preliminary system map on the chosen topic before the workshop, for their “back pocket.” This helps the facilitator to anticipate what topics are likely to arise and what challenges participants may encounter.
Prepare the room
- Each participant will need a chair, writing surface and a clear sightline to the wall/white board/flipchart where the system map(s) will be created. If possible, allow breakout groups to go into separate rooms so they can talk without distraction.
- If the breakout groups will be self-facilitating, be prepared to assign a system mapping recorder for each team and to provide them with the system mapping handout to guide the activity. It is helpful to have one participant per team function as the discussion leader/recorder while the rest brainstorm. If the team is large enough, a second participant can be assigned to be the recorder.
- A lead facilitator and an assistant can circulate among the groups to provide support.
- Provide markers for each team, including a choice of colours to allow the option of assigning meaning through colour.
- Alternately, different coloured sticky notes can be used.
|5 min||1. General meeting introductions (if needed)
|3 min||2. Give context for the system map exercise
|2 min||3. Provide activity instructions
4. Activity: create system maps
5. Review the participants’ system maps
6. Summarize key points about system maps and the exercise
7. Reflect on and/or evaluate the exercise
Add-ons/Modifications to the system map exercise
OPTION A: After developing the map, vote on the most important elements
After the group generates their system map, it is often helpful to evaluate which elements are the most critical to the system. This provides an idea of where participants might want to focus their attention, for example when scanning.
A way to do this is to ask the group to vote on the most important elements at the end of a system map activity. Give each participant 3–5 votes (they can use a marker or dot stickers) to distribute among the elements on the map as they wish. To determine importance, the questions to consider are:
- Which elements do participants expect to change the most?
- Which elements would be most disruptive for policy, should they change significantly?
After voting, the facilitator can briefly highlight a few of the most popular elements and remind participants that these are good topics to monitor when looking for signs of disruptive change affecting the system.
Option B: Engage experts after the workshop to deepen understanding of the system
If participants have access to subject matter experts, consider utilizing their knowledge to bring more depth to the map. With a legible version of the system map (perhaps one typed up using online mind-mapping software), ask the experts for their comments. Is there anything they would add/remove/change? Be aware that they may not have a holistic perspective on the system and that they may be biased by their own area of expertise.
Building a Foresight Workshop: Complementary Activities to Consider
For facilitators who have multiple objectives for a foresight workshop, below are a few suggestions for activities that would pair well with the system map exercise.
Before the exercise
After the exercise
- To emphasize the domain mapping exercise as a learning experience, consider sharing and discussing the facilitator’s “back pocket” system map. (You may need a projector, internet access etc. arranged ahead to display your map). How did you:
- create the map (Google Docs, Post-its, Insightmaker, Visio, Simplemind, Mind42, etc.);
- choose the elements;
- Develop a polished version of the system map. Print a large format, colour copy of the map. It is useful to be able to refer back to the map in subsequent sessions.
- Deliver the system mapping exercise (module 4).