System map


A visualisation of the interactions, relationships, variables, actors, processes and exchanges in a service or policy space.


  • A sound understanding of the bigger picture around a problem

Use when

  • You’re working in a complex context with lots of actors or variables you need to make sense of
  • You need to decide who to speak to during discovery research
  • You need to create a vision or a strategy that makes sense in a complex context

System maps are not

  • Journey maps – Journey maps are technical artefacts that must include certain features and elements.


System maps are only helpful if they assist your team to make sense of complexity. They are a tool, nothing more.

System maps can just be written up on a whiteboard – they don’t usually need to be digitised or published.