Researching online is a great place to start, but to really flesh out the nuances within your system map you have to speak to some people who have been deeply immersed in your problem system: either because they are professionally or academically focused on it, or they are actually living it.
The aim of this step is to gather as much insight as possible on system dynamics within your chosen system from a diverse set of stakeholders.
Who should I speak to?
Try to get a diverse set of perspectives on your problem system. Choose people who are operating in different parts of the system e.g. upstream and downstream, directly involved and peripherally involved.
How many conversations should I aim for?
Consider the ‘rule of six’: you can get over 90% of the insight you need to make an effective system map by having six good conversations. After that, the incremental insight per conversation reduces significantly.
You can get away with fewer than six stakeholder interviews if you are time-constrained, but you also don’t need to go well above six unless you have good reason.
What should I ask?
Come prepared with a set of questions, but be prepared to let your interviewee steer the conversation. As long as it’s related to your system and the dynamics within it, it should be interesting to you – by keeping an open mind, you may chance upon some hidden insight.
For more best practices on engaging with stakeholders, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on our ‘Human Conversations Toolkit’