Notebook: How To Start Mapping Gigantic Systems To Find New Opportunities

Agencies and product teams now operate in the age of automation where increasing complexity is the new norm.

Often the work and goal is to see a whole system and to rethink it, to innovate, and it makes knowing where to start challenging.

Creative Leaders and teams use “system thinking,” the ability to look at a whole system and see connections, find gaps and capture new opportunities.

It’s one thing to know the concept used, system thinking, and it’s another to start seeing a complex system.

When I’m stuck and don’t know where to start, there is no magic to get me going. I need to get into the flow and waiting for creative inspiration is not an option, because I’m working.

So I set a timer and start mapping the most obvious parts of a system. I use a Time Timer set to 5 or 15 minutes and tell myself I only have to think, capture or map the those most obvious parts of a system in my set timeframe.

The most obvious connections in a system likely don’t lead to innovation, but it gives me the freedom to start mapping connections allowing me to move on to what’s next. 80% of the time this start allows me to get into the flow where ideas are moving, and I can get past the first iteration to more novel and meaningful ideas.

I believe in the age of automation creative leaders and teams will be successful when they can amplify unique human skills, like seeing obscure relationships in complex systems.

Humans unparalleled ability to look at one thing and see another is an essential trait to pushing technology forward.