My colleagues and I have developed, over the past two decades, a systemic approach to strategic understanding of complex social systems. We frame this work with the term GRASP, which reminds us of the five key elements of the strategic systems mapping: Goals, Resources, Actions, Structures, and People. You can learn more about the GRASP framework and the strategic systems mapping process in our free online course (click here) or in a paper we published in the British journal Long Range Planning (click here). Essentially, GRASP integrates the five big questions of strategic thinking:
- Goals. Identify why the organization exists and what its global goal is. Identify stake- holders and their goals.
- Resources. Identify those resources that drive value (value-driving resources) for stakeholders and those that enable value (enabling resources). Balance the resource needs for all key stakeholders.
- Actions. Act at the level of enabling resources.
- Structure. Identify the linkages between goals, resources, and actions.
- People. Bring the organization to life. Identify the incentives of those groups that control parts of the organization. Align the organization’s structure and incentives to max- imize the organization’s potential.
- how much is there? (economics of resources)
- who decides and enforces the allocation? (politics of allocation)
- what criteria are used to decide? (culture of values)
- what are the rules of the game? (social organization of interactions)
What does the GRASP map look like, from the perspective of the four lenses in the Agreements Evidence Map? The GRASP map describes each of the four lenses, and how they fit together in a social system.
From the perspective of the four lenses in the Agreements Evidence Map:
- the Resource lens looks at the enabling and value-driving Resources in the GRASP map
- the Allocation lens describes the decision and enforcement policies and perspectives used by the People, the stakeholders, in the GRASP map
- the Value lens highlights the Goals of the stakeholders in the social system, how the value-driving resources describe those Goals in the GRASP map, and the criteria People use to make the decisions they enforce
- the Organization lens captures the Structure of the relationships amongst the goals, resources, actions, and people, as well as the Actions described by the rules of interaction, in the GRASP map
From the perspective of the GRASP elements:
- the Goals describe what can be seen through the Values lens for the different stakeholders in the social system
- the Resources describe the enabling and value-driving resources seen through the Resources lens
- the Actions capture what people can do within the rules of interaction in the system, as seen through the Organization lens
- the Structure describes the relationships amongst the elements of the system, as seen through the Organization lens
- the People describe who makes decisions and enforces them, as seen through the Allocation lens, with what criteria, as seen through the Values lens
Thus, GRASP frames the agreements evidence mapping in integrated, strategic systems terms.