Source: Resources – Map the System
Below are some ideas and inspiration to help you in your research.
New Resource: Student Guide to Mapping a System
This twelve-step Guide, co-authored by Anna Johnson, Daniela Papi-Thornton and James Stauch, will help walk you (and your team, if you have one) through the process of mapping a system. This Guide will provide you with advice and additional tools for each step of the process, from picking a social or environmental challenge, to researching it and presenting your analysis and ideas (visually, orally, and in writing).
We hope this Guide and the suggested resources will not only help you navigate the Map the System process, but will also support you in your own future contributions to systems change.
The Guide was produced by the Institute for Community Prosperity at Mount Royal University, and Systems-LedLeadership.com, in partnership with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Additional funding for the Guide was provided by the RECODE program of the McConnell Foundation, and by the Trico Charitable Foundation.
This is intended to be a living document that continually evolves, and we intend to release an updated version later this year. We would welcome your feedback and suggestions to help us improve it.
The Impact Gaps Canvas
The Impact Gaps canvas is a tool to help you ask the questions you might want to consider in creating your entry for Map the System. By asking questions related to the challenge landscape (questions about the problem and its impact as well as what might be holding the current status quo in place) and the solutions landscape (what is already being tried and what has or hasn’t worked) you can then identify gaps where the solutions are failing to meet the problems.
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The Impact Gaps Canvas was created by Daniela Papi-Thornton, former Deputy Director of the Skoll Centre, as part of her research for the Clore Social Leadership Programme.
Click here for a guide to using the Impact Gaps Canvas, and watch the video below.
Tools for Creating Your Visual Map
As you already know, part of your Map the System submission is made up of creating a visual map. This is to showcase your findings in an engaging, dynamic and accessible way. There are many ways you can do this and many different tools you can use to create your visual map – and we encourage you to get as creative as possible! Here we have suggested a few online tools you can use to create your map:
System Mapping Tools
Kumu: A powerful data visualization platform that helps you organize complex information into interactive relationship maps
Plectica: Helping people visualise & connect information so they can get on the same page
Venngage: Tell your stories and present your data with infographics
Piktochart: A simple, intuitive tool that helps you tell your story
Visme: Tell powerful visual stories in the form of engaging presentations, infographics and other visual content
Infogram: Create engaging infographics and reports
Canva: Create beautiful designs
Animation Video Tools
Biteable: An animated video maker that’s fast, easy, and fun
Animiz: The simplest animated video presentation software to create professional animated video presentations
RawShorts: Make an awesome explainer video today
As part of your research for Map the System, we encourage you to conduct first-person interviews or surveys/questionnaires with stakeholders related to the issue you have chosen. But before conducting any interviews or surveys, you need to consider if you should be complying with any specific ethical guidelines.
Review the Ethical Considerations page which contains a few principles to help you with your research.
Article: Interview Pro Tips from a Journalist
This article is useful for you if you are conducting interviews for your Map the System research. It is an article from news journalist and TV host Brooke Gladstone, who has conducted hundreds of interviews, and in this she gives her number one tips for conducting successful and effective interviews.
You can read this article for free from Content Strategy Inc contentstrategyinc.com.
Article: The 5Rs Framework
Created by USAID, this framework is intended as a simple and practical tool to promote good systems practice. The Framework highlights five key dimensions of systems: Results, Roles, Relationships, Rules and Resources. Collectively these 5Rs can serve as a lens for assessing local systems and a guide for identifying and monitoring interventions designed to strengthen them.
Suggested reading: Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows
This book by the late Donella Meadows has been highly influential in the field of systems dynamics. It is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the tools, methods and skills required for systems thinking. You can buy the book online here.
You may also find useful Donella Meadows’ article, “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System” which is available for free online.
Video: Five Reasons Why System Mapping Matters
Cheryl Dahle is the Founder of Future of Fish and was a judge at the 2017 Global Final in Oxford.
Cheryl is an entrepreneur and journalist who works at the intersection of business and social change. Along with a team of designers, scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs, she creates and tests new ways to solve large-scale, systemic problems. How do you achieve systems change to world-scale challenges? In her keynote speech, Cheryl shares her real-life examples of how complex challenges can be addressed by taking a ‘systems thinking’ approach.
Video: Mapping Society for a More Meaningful World
Steve Whitla is the founder of Visual Meaning, a company that helps large organisations make sense of how they work, and how they need to change, using conceptual maps. In this video, Steve explains how system maps could revolutionise our ability to understand and change the world.
You can learn more about Steve’s work on his blog, Meaning Guide.
Video: Reclaiming Social Entrepreneurship
Daniela Papi-Thornton has a unique perspective on social entrepreneurship, developed as result of six years working for social change in Cambodia and from her role as Deputy Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, which she left in 2016. Daniela offers tools and perspectives that help educators, parents, and budding change makers re-position themselves and rethink how we teach and incentivize social entrepreneurs.
Article: Why Social Ventures Need Systems Thinking
A useful Harvard Business Review article making the case for the importance of systems thinking when tackling global challenges.
Suggested reading: How Change Happens by Duncan Green
This book from Duncan Green, Oxfam GB’s Senior Strategic Adviser, explains the importance of a systems approach to bringing about positive social change.
You can download the book for free on the website how-change-happens.com.
Mapping the causes of a problem
As you discuss the problem in your Map the System entry, you may want to examine one or more causes of the problem. This will also help you articulate which type of solution might be most effective.
Watch this video to see how to produce a Causes Diagram, and visit this link to learn more from the DIY toolkit site:
Video: Systems-thinking: A Little Film About a Big Idea
What do we mean by “systems-thinking”? This short film provides an introduction to the basic concepts.