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Systems diagramming
Systems diagramming

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4.6 Diagrams for planning and implementation

The first principle in planning is: be clear about your own direction and purpose – in other words, your values and why you are doing anything. You can use the technique of asking why? And then why? of the answer. And then why? of the answer to that. Keep repeating this process until you get back to your underlying values to create an objectives tree or network to help you define the direction in which you wish to go and the steps necessary to get there.

In an objectives tree, the statements you might make about what you wish to do, how you might do it and why you are doing things are related to each other. Why people are doing things should come at the top of the tree and how they are doing them at the bottom. With several levels, many what? statements are also how? statements in relation to a higher what? statement. With such multiple objectives an objectives tree or network can become quite complicated, but should provide a clearer idea about the important relationships between what you are doing and why.

Conceptual models can be used to analyse a human activity system both to identify potential weaknesses in the connectivity of the human activity system and to plan human activity systems so that there is adequate connectivity between the elements in the system.

The most immediate how? statements in an objectives tree or network can probably be related to a group of people who can be viewed as a human activity system about whom you can draw systems maps and conceptual models. Diagrams can be used to share understanding, diagnoses and design and the stages in implementing new relationships may be helped by the use of flow-block and decision-sequence diagrams or algorithms (flow charts) to plan a process or a relatively stable sequence of activities. Systems maps may help to orient people to new relationships and ways of working and you can use a spray diagram to plan any report or documentation you may produce.