Mapping, a tool for innovation

We’ve definitely been witnessing a world of chaos we never thought we’d quite see.

Triggered by the pandemic, nearly every system we know and understand appears to be in a state of disorder and irregularity. I wonder if an increased desire for visual sensemaking is to help navigate the complexity of it all?  

I’ve been spending some time thinking through the ways in which to build a narrative and visualise the results of the mapping work.  I’ve been admiring the synthesis maps from the Canadian Strategic Innovation Lab. A picture speaks a thousand words, but it is also only one of multiple ways in which we absorb information. 

I’ve also been challenging myself with the why. Describing the value of the mapping work is really hard, perhaps because it is so deeply entrenched in my own value system that we are stronger when we work together and surely everyone sees the world in that way.  What the mapping allows us to do is to observe and provide a view into what is already happening, but more importantly where there are gaps and potentially how this may shift over time. How might we use these snapshot views to learn and observe, to consider ways to erase gaps collectively?  Where are there opportunities to change what exists for the better?

 “The ability to make sense of complexity, think strategically and innovatively, and develop solutions of sustainable value is critical to the ongoing and future success of our society, culture, economy and environment”

Strategic Innovation Lab

Our mapping projects to date have been commissioned by stakeholders looking to make sense of, and drive change. It becomes one of many inputs that will justify the need for innovation and at the very least nudge our systems and practices in the most effective way.  

I have been thinking about how to build a visual narrative from the data we curate, but of course we are not the Strategic Innovation Lab, and what we bring is a small part of the story, not the sum of its parts. The true value is really the data source itself, not in our moment-in-time interpretation.  

My very focus at the start of the fellowship was to think about creative outputs to encourage and engage stakeholders.  I’m definitely now questioning this as a necessary deliverable for our work. Is perhaps the greater value in bringing together open datasets and cataloguing structures that can be interpreted by stakeholders in the way they are most useful and accessible to them? To open the data to wider and more diverse audiences?

I have now shifted to explore a niche for DOT INSIGHT in the practice of curating open datasets. Datasets of shared social value, built with trust at the heart that can be delivered in an open way to aid social innovation. These datasets themselves become the trigger to collaborate on data as a common resource, they begin to be the very reason we come together.