systems maps

Systems seems to revolve around diagramming so this forum is designed to allow us to discuss this.

systems maps

Postby Teiana on Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:42 pm

has anyone got any good (or bad!) examples of systems maps we can share?

or any examples of situations where they have used systems maps?
H.R.H. 8-)
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Re: systems maps

Postby Neill on Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:39 pm

The attached is an example of a systems map.
tma05SystemsMap.png
An example of a systems map.
tma05SystemsMap.png (72.11 KiB) Viewed 1439 times

I do not know if it is good and bad because this is the one type of system diagram that I have never managed to "get in to".
I do them when they are necessary but they are not a "tool" that I would automatically pull out of the box and expect to gain something from.
I think that I am still missing the point of them.
I could imagine getting just as much out of a structured list or a mind map.

maybe some one out there can provide the missing something.

Have fun
Neill
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Re: systems maps

Postby Teiana on Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:35 pm

i think the outer border of the main system is supposed to be in a thicker line to show the main system of interest.

i don't get all the 'elements' - for example in Neills map the subsystems are 'worldviews' 'people' and 'real problems'.

i don't see that these make sense as the subsystems of 'trying to incorporate the engineering department of a new company into an existing one'. Of course they may BE the subsystems, i just have problems conceptualizing it all.

There are clearly lots more things that could be added: i don't really know how with a systems map you make the decision about what ought to be in or out.

Obviously it's the decision making process which is supposed to help you.

And another issue is the labelling of the system and subsystems: matching the labels to what we really mean.

For example there's a difference between 'trying to...' and 'Incorporating...'. or 'issues surrounding the incorporation of...'.. or 'the engineering departments' or 'the issues affecting engineers'....
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Re: systems maps

Postby angel_eyes on Sat May 02, 2009 1:24 pm

Each of the sub-systems need to be in a system boundary of their own to show that they are all systems in their own right (and yes, the main boundary should be a thicker line or a different colour.

To decide what goes inside the boundary you have to think, Does this affect the system? If I remove it will the main system change? If the answer to these is No then it goes in the environment.
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Re: systems maps

Postby Teiana on Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:19 am

scrnptdabb56.jpg
scrnptdabb56.jpg (45.32 KiB) Viewed 1320 times



K and I drew this yesterday... while clearly it's not a finished, neat systems map, it was a joint effort :-)

However we weren't sure how to name it.

So the question is, what name should this diagram have and where should it be?
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Re: systems maps

Postby Andrea on Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:03 am

Teiana wrote:So the question is, what name should this diagram have and where should it be?


good question, if only because my instantaneous reaction was "how can you develop a systems map without having first identified the purpose of your system of interest?"

But then, I started trying to figure out how you ended up having no name/title/system purpose. I'm assuming that your initial purpose was something along the lines of "a system to explore T306 learning outcomes". Yet, it's possible that as you executed your visualisation exercise, your system purpose started evolving. So the difficulty with the name might be something about trying to capture what this new system of interest is? No longer just "an exploration"?
esse sequitur operari
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Re: systems maps

Postby Teiana on Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:38 am

well sort of..

i thought we were drawing something which would be called 'a systems map of things we learned in T306', and this would be written inside the main blob.
But karen said she thought it should read ' A system to...<forgot what she said now> ' Inside the blob, and that calling it 'a systems map of' would be a title below the diagram. But i thought we didn't need a 'title below the diagram' on systems maps, i thought that was the point that the title was inside.. and either way, we didn't agree about the format of the title..

so we agreed we would post it here and put the debate out to a wider audience. :-)
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Re: systems maps

Postby Teiana on Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:39 am

the thing is as well, when we started, i thought the 'diagram' was the system, ie, we were producing the thing we were using..

only by the end i didn't know if that was right, was the 'things in the diagram ' the system, or, the diagram itself?

then i got lost, but mind it was getting late by then
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Re: systems maps

Postby Neill on Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:19 pm

In real life (and particularly the last two years) I have been diagramming my way through life.
Above my desk is a "huge" white board, loads of coloured pens and a digital camera.
As soon as things get "complicated" I start drawing.
and I can name the type of drawing one time in 100.
But does that make the diagrams less meaningful?
I think that this "types of diagrams, conventions, titles or not, etc." is all very artificial and will be forgotten after next Monday.
:-)

And I often use the diagrams to "see where something is going" so maybe they are a "graphical exploration".
Neill
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Re: systems maps

Postby Andrea on Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:49 pm

I know what you mean Neill -- sometimes all these conventions and rules really get in the way of the modelling process. I sometimes start with a rich picture on a whiteboard and then end up adding arrows to identify feedback processes and/or break down individual icons into their constituent parts through a micro spray diagram etc. The final diagram looks like a total mess, but it has really helped sort things out in my head.

however, the reason why we develop rules is so that we can facilitate a shared understanding -- verbal models wouldn't make much sense to others without the grammatical conventions.

So diagramming, like any other form of visual modelling, serves two purposes: surfacing and clarifying your own mental models; and communicating these two others. You don't necessarily need any rules or conventions for the former, but I think it makes life easier in the latter.

With regards to Teiana and Karen's systems map, I would expect the system boundary to be labelled as "a system to....", otherwise one risks the trap of using the technique to categorise objects rather than describe the constituent processes contributing towards the higher level emergent purpose. The diagram's caption could be described as "a systems map of....."
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