A client sent a link to Tom Wujec's TED Scotland 2013 talk, Got a Wicked Problem? First, tell me how you make toast. It's a discussion of why drawing out your system can be so valuable. Wujec uses the framework of making toast to expand into systems thinking in general. He even shares the ideas on DrawToast.com to encourage others to use the concept.
Wujec describes the overall process as helping to create clarity, engagement and alignment by making your processes visual, tangible and consequential.
The element that caught my attention is the idea of being able to easily modify and iterate around the drawing one creates - whether that is a person alone with a pile of sticky notes or a team working together against a wall. Making it easy to modify and change and adjust the drawing is an important aspect of this process. Why is this interesting to me? Because people so often want to take the first pass drawing a cast it in cement: put it into a drawing software, or code it up as the solution. The point of the process is the process, not necessarily the outcome. It is way too easy for the first drawing to look like "the solution" - or for people to get ahead of themselves and want to "fix" the system without fully understanding it. The process of drawing and thinking is inherently iterative and evolutionary. Let it be.
There are some familiar aspects here about drawing processes or systems: there are nodes and links. For the toast drawings, the nodes are states or deliverables. The links are the actions needed to transition from one state to another. That's a whole 'nother blog post.