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21. Systems Mapping of Targets




Description and Purpose:

A systems map is a ‘rich picture’ that is drawn up to show the relative power and relationships between different bodies. It can be used to chart and analyze the power relationships between the key players in an organization, including potential targets (primary and secondary).


To draw a systems map, you use circles to represent each player, using different sized circles to depict the relative power of each. Then they are linked using connector arrows, which are also different sizes to depict the relative strength of the relationships between them. This is an example:

One aspect to remember is that for any particular policy decision there is always one decision maker (or decision gatekeeper), even if there may be many decision approvers and decision advisers within the organization. The decision maker is the person responsible for that policy or issue. They may not have sole authority, but the policy will not go forward for approval without their agreement. In government, the decision maker is often a minister. Decision approvers have a formal role in approving proposals presented to them. In a government, that may be the Cabinet, The President and/or the Parliament depending on the system of government in operation and the issue concerned. In a company, approvers may be the Board of Directors.

Decision advisors may be junior staff or civil servants, and there will also be a number of internal stakeholders who want to influence that decision (through formal and informal means). This is in addition to external stakeholders, including ourselves, who also want to influence that decision.

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