Systems Mapping 201 (SM201)


Systems Mapping is an essential and deeply practical skill that makes Systems Thinking visible and tangible. It provides a strong structure for effective information visualisation that can help leaders quickly examine and decipher discrete patterns of complex systems to optimise decision making.

SM201 is a self-paced online course that guides participants in mapping any system, regardless of their level of complexity. Get ready to use hands-on examples in Plectica Systems Mapping software, allowing you to practice making beautiful and easily understandable maps. Through this programme, participants will learn skills that they can use in any software or medium.

Learning Objectives

  1. Refine distinctions using card elements (i.e., title, summary text, webpage/map URL, image, video, other media, colour, and attribute)
  2. Question, refine, or redefine the way you label or identify things using the “Distinctions identity ⇄ other” (Dio) Thinking Structure.
  3. Deepen meaning of existing cards by adding parts.
  4. Re-organise and re-arrange cards to convey and clarify meaning.
  5. Build robust subsystems using freehand layout.
  6. Compress top-level systems to clarify meaning.
  7. Use colour to create systems across the map content.
  8. As you consider the parts of your system (the various cards), be mindful of the gaps and look for overlaps.
  9. Use relationship lines to connect ideas.
  10. Differentiate relationship lines with directional arrows, colour, and weight.
  11. Improve map readability and clarify meaning by distinguishing/labelling relationship lines (aka, RDs).
  12. Improve map readability and clarify meaning by adding parts to relationship line distinctions (aka, RDSs or “zooming into Rs”).
  13. Use perspective to reframe, prioritise cards, or change the view of your map.
  14. Use perspective to develop a set of stopping rules to close out an analysis.
  15. Use a large-scale model as a Perspectival-point (Pp) to alter another set cards as a Perspectival-view (Pv).
  16. Mix and match Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives in a fractal and recursive way to evolve your map.
  17. Avoid reinventing the wheel by identifying cognitive jigs.
  18. Use waypoints to help walk people through a nonlinear system in a linear order.
  19. Utilise all the non-cognitive features of Plectica and differentiate between cognitive architecture and non-cognitive features.
  20. Collaboratively build, share, and evolve maps.

At the end of the programme, you should be able to:

  • Visualise and model complex systems
  • Optimise your maps with best practices and techniques
  • Deepen your understanding of complex systems and be able to communicate ideas more effectively
Together, we can make a systemic impact to the world