GRASPing Ecosynomic Lenses

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.

In the Agreements Evidence Map, Ecosynomics suggests four lenses for looking at human agreements, asking the questions:

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.

A Framework for Achieving Clarity for You and Your Organization

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James. 2004. A Framework for Achieving Clarity for You and Your Organization, The Systems Thinker, 15(7), September, 7-8.

One of the keys to to being effective is to understand the complexity of your organization, what it seeks to achieve, and how you can contribute to that objective.  Through a series of exercises, you can gain clarity about these elements.  With an integrated understanding of what values drive the system’s behavior, how the parts of the system function, and how the values and parts relate, you will be much clearer in how your day-to-day actions will help you achieve the desired results for your area and organization.

Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James, and Hal Rabbino. 2001. Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources, Chichester: Wiley.

In searching for the organizational ‘magic’ that makes some businesses thrive and other fail, management gurus, academic seers and business leaders strive to articulate a single reason for success. Managers are then faced with analyzing numerous findings and trying to integrate the best elements from each view that makes sense to them.

Managing from Clarity integrates the different views into one, streamlined structure which includes organizational as well as operational dynamics and moves it into the realm of strategic management. A host of tools and processes are presented, which offer leaders the means to make informed and deeply thought decisions on how best to balance multiple strategic issues. This books shows managers how to:  describe an individual’s mental map of the world as a basis for decision-making; clearly articulate and map key relationships across the entire organization; describe the basis for developing a common, systemic platform for communication of strategic issues; provide a rigorous and straightforward method for testing strategic hypotheses; identify the essential strategic resources within a firm; and so harness the enormous potential for performance improvement that comes from integrating and aligning the mental methods of the individuals of the firm around the global goals of the organization.

Free online course in Managing from Clarity

You can now take the Managing from Clarity course for FREE online, through the Institute for Strategic Clarity.  Just click here to access the course, with an audiobook reading, related interviews, and case studies for each chapter of the Managing from Clarity book.

Strategic Clarity: Actions for Identifying and Correcting Gaps in Mental Models

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James L. and Luz María Puente. 2008. Strategic Clarity: Actions for Identifying and Correcting Gaps in Mental Models, Long Range Planning, 41(5) 509-52.

Whether you are making quick resource-allocation decisions alone or collaborating with your executive team to set organizational strategy, what you see, what you advocate, and what you ultimately decide are influenced by the map of the world you carry around inside your head. In some ways, this map or mental model is unique to you, as it was formed through your specific experiences and ways of engaging with the world. This article is based on a decade of research and fieldwork and is illustrated with multiple references to both large and small European and American organizations in the for-profit, non-profit, and governmental sectors. It presents five guiding questions that can help identify and correct gaps in managers’ mental models of their organizations. This approach enables managers to be clear about how to move their organizations in the desired direction, in order to achieve their goals. While useful for professional managers of complex systems, these questions are particularly applicable for leaders of civil society, governmental, and entrepreneurial for-profit organizations. The main contribution of this article is a framework of exercises based on the five questions that integrates traditional strategic dimensions and allows leaders to identify gaps in their mental models, resulting in more effective leadership and improved performance.

Free online course in Strategic Decision Making

I invite you to my FREE online course on Strategic Decision Making, hosted at the Institute for Strategic Clarity.  Just click here.  This is a 6-session course I have taught since 1993 at leading universities in the USA, throughout Latin America and Europe.  With each session, I offer you audio lectures, graphics, related articles, and the occasional case study with an accompanying business simulator, which I developed for executive clients in those firms.