Use influence diagrams to identify relationships between actors or nodes within a system, and the distribution of influence between them.
When to use it?
Frame: Influence diagrams are useful when you want to get a sense of how the different actors within a system interact with and affect each other.
How to do it?
Create a list of actors, trends, or elements within a system using sticky notes, cards, or magnets.
Place one of these elements at the centre of your work space.
Add an additional item to your workspace, each time asking “how does this item influence the others here? How is it influenced by others?”
Indicate the direction of the flow of influence by connecting elements with a line and an arrow.
Once finished, circle the hubs of influence (also known as drivers of change).
People: Influence maps can be drawn individually or in small gropus. A group of up to 8 people works best. Larger groups should be broken into sub-groups.
Time: 30 minutes – 1 hour to draw and cross-brief.
Pros and Cons
- Identifies the relationships between elements within a system, and highlights hubs of influence and system drivers.
- Visual representation of influence
- It can help identify where to make potential changes within a system
- Visual exercise
- Easily recognize hubs of influence (those that are highly influential, and highly influenced) within a system
- Not a clear communications tool for those not part of creating it
- Not exact, open to interpretation
- Indicate the strength of the influence by increasing the width of a line
- If influence flows both ways between two items, indicate this with two separate lines, since the flow of influence may not be evenly distributed.
- Consider this tool useful for when scanning, it may be necessary to conduct a deeper dive into the nodes or elements for a more exact understanding of the system
- What are the hubs of influence, the major drivers (those with the most arrows reaching away from them.)
- What are the feedback loops in this system?
- The conversation had while collaborating on an influence map is more valuable than the visual product