The image at the top of this article can be seen here. It’s one of many concept maps I’ve created over past 20 years to visualize a learning and planning process that needs to take place in thousands of locations in order to bring more people together to solve complex problems that repeat in many locations.

Below is a great example of using visualizations to understand complex problems.  This graphic is from a World Economic Forum article titled “Global Risk Report – 2017


You can download the report or read it on-line, using the “reader” feature.  I looked at it on line, or I should say, “I’m looking at it”.  That’s because there is an extensive volume of information to digest.

Each of the high risk areas is highlighted with and arrow on the graph. Contributing factors are the colored dots.  Click on an arrow, and you get a new, more narrowly focused, visualization, showing only those factors related to that issue.  Click on the dots and text appears that leads you deeper.

I’m not sure what tool is being used for this visualization. It could be Kumu.  Visit this blog and  you will find extensive articles which use Kumu visualization tools.

I think students as young as elementary school could/should be learning to use visualization tools like this to show logical thinking and how “things” fit together.  Practice over many years can develop a comfort level of using these tools, and a habit of digging deeper into existing knowledge to find solutions to complex problems.

Below is another one of my concept maps, showing a planning process that would lead to greater on-going support for solutions to poverty and inequality.  Note that step 7 is “building public will”.


I’d love to find volunteers and/or student groups who would look at my concept map collection and redo them using Kumu or other systems thinking tools, so more people would  understand and apply the ideas to solving any of the problems highlighted by the World Economic Forum.

If you take on this role just let me know you’re doing it and send me links to the completed work so I can add it to my own library of examples.