Asynchronous Ecosystem Development: Micro-mapping using scanning, ZIP-Analysis, and systemic relations

Format: Papers, RSD11, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Mapping & Modelling

Cheryl May

London South Bank University

Can systemic design optimise on realities of asynchronous ecosystem development and bridge time and space between distributed, often unrelated teams? Does it make sense to work incrementally?

This case study is based on the Canadian Business for Purpose Network (B4PN), hosted by MaRS Discovery District and funded by the McConnell Foundation. The author evaluated network activities from November 2020 to March 2022 and provided inputs to ecosystem development based on strategic clarity work.

In emergent work such as this, uneven development is to be expected. A multimethod research mindset informed the evaluation project. The interdisciplinary research draws on strategic foresight, bricolage, and social R&D and applies ZIP-Analysis and the Library of Systemic Relations to three micro maps.

Reflexivity raised questions about design and designers in social systems, the realities of asynchronous ecosystem development and distributed work, and the wisdom or folly of incrementalism in design (Dodgson, 2019). The project applied interdisciplinary research in practice to leverage asynchronous situations and distributed networks of designers, strategists, and funders.

The idea of a large street mural comes to mind; often composed by several artists, it exists in parts executed asynchronously. While some sections are completed to the finest detail, others are simply pencil lines expressing the outline of shapes. While work is asynchronous, so is the advancement of understanding and progress on goals.

Keywords: bricolage, ecosystem, foresight, gigamaps, social R&D, synthesis maps, strategy

Evaluating asynchronous ecosystem development

Canadian Business for Purpose Report 2022

This report of the Business for Purpose Network (B4PN) is a high-level summary of the evolution of purpose-led business in Canada, detailing the work of the founding partners and including references to international research and related events to lend context. The report’s methodology consists of an extensive literature review, ten in-depth interviews with partners, and a thematic analysis of the B4PN Weekly Announcements sent via email to opt-in subscribers.

Photo of Montreal mural that is in a loading bay and is black and white and filled with imaginative depictions of people and places illustrates asynchronous ecosystem development

En Masse. (2011). Quai des arts [mural, visited June 2022]. Théâtre ESPACE GO, Landing stage, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, 4890, boulevard St-Laurent Montréal, QC, Canada.

Citation Data

Author(s): Cheryl May
Year: 2022
Title: Asynchronous Ecosystem Development: Micro-mapping using scanning, ZIP-Analysis, and systemic relations
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 091
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 23 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

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Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

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