Systems mapping illustration

Lead paragraph

System maps is a tool that allows designers to visualize different systems such as stakeholder maps, value network maps, and ecosystem maps. The system map provides a visual description of the service and the different actors/stakeholders involved and their mutual links.

PREPARATION: up to 20 minutes
DURATION: 45-60 minutes
TEMPLATE OR GUIDELINES: System Radar template
FACILITATORS: 1 per workshop
RESOURCES: Research data, persona templates (paper-based or digital), paper, pens, masking tape,  Post-its, a large sheet of paper or whiteboard
PARTICIPANTS: 2–8, design team, partners, community members, etc.


The interplay between users, staff, partner organizations, and other stakeholders involved in a service is charted and analyzed via system map by designers.


Define the focus of what you are interested in and consider what you want to do with your findings.

Based on the selected focus area, define a specific perspective for the system (e.g. from a user’s or an employee’s perspective), and select participants with sound knowledge of the system.

Organize a meeting with the selected participants, prepare the room, and gather the necessary resources and supplies to create journey maps. Define the clear scope for the system map (e.g., a specific situation within a journey map) and the situational context (e.g., weekdays during daytime). Then, think about what expectations will be set up-front, how you will start and end the workshop, and how much time participants are expected to dedicate to this activity.

Start your workshop with a welcome, describing the workshop’s aim and agenda, and facilitate a round of introductions. split the participants into groups of 3–4 people and ask them to write in Post-it’s the stakeholders that are part of the system you want to visualize. Use the System Radar template, and arrange the stakeholders on the map according to the level and type of engagement they have. Outline relationships between stakeholders to visualize interdependencies within the system. This is an iterative process. In the end, have each group present their system maps.

Reflect, discuss similarities and differences between the system maps. Then, let the group agree on one map. Write up key outcomes from this exercise – system maps.

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