In a recent RealKM Magazine article, I looked at the complex system that underlies the COVID-19 crisis. As I alerted in that article, it’s necessary to understand such systems to be able to intervene in them in ways that will successfully address problems while at the same time not causing unintended consequences.
But how to do this effectively? A newly published handbook1 provides a step-by-step guide to challenge-led system mapping. The handbook has been produced by Climate-KIC, which is a knowledge and innovation community supported by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent body of the European Union.
The challenge-led system mapping process is intended to support the creation of a proactive and interactive environment for a wide range of participants, in which different actors – such as managers, researchers, civil servants, business and civil society representatives – explore a common understanding of the system in which they are embedded. These actors have a variety of interests and hold differing levels of influence in the system.
The overall approach takes as its starting point an existing or new, collectively created challenge, often defined using input from an entire community as part of an open and inclusive process. This approach seeks to aid the representation of communities and their common goals.
It adopts practitioner-oriented visual tools for use by non-expert participants, avoiding the use of jargon or technical language. The materialisation of that learning process into practice-based knowledge is facilitated by co-created ‘concept maps’ where concepts and elements regarding specific topics can be written down – usually in one word – and connections drawn between them.
Knowledge management is thus an essential aspect in the process. The value proposition of this approach is the creation of a knowledge-based process as a service for challenge owners and the broader community aimed at enabling them to better understand their system and recognise opportunities for innovation. These knowledge services take the form of mechanisms that contribute to the collective understanding of societal problems as part of the combined process of system assessment and co-design for creating transformative activities.
Article and header image source: Challenge-led system mapping: A knowledge management approach.
- Matti, C., Martín Corvillo, JM, Vivas Lalinde, I., Juan Agulló, B., Stamate, E., Avella, G., and Bauer A. (2020). Challenge-led system mapping. A knowledge management approach. Transitions Hub series. EIT Climate-KIC, Brussels. ↩
Also published on Medium.