Challenge-led system mapping: a new EIT Climate KIC Handbook for practitioners working on transformational change

Thinking & Analysis

The Transitions Hub, an in-house policy unit of EIT Climate KIC, is collaborating with TIPC in different projects and initiatives. As an interface between policy, science and practice, it has developed an approach to respond to the need to improve the practitioner’s capacity to move towards transformational system change by providing mechanisms to work more horizontally with challenge owners and other system actors.

Its new handbook is now available online: Challenge-led system mapping: a knowledge management approach. It summarises what they have learnt in the past five years from the design and implementation of more than forty system mapping processes. It was designed to be simple for practitioners to use as a complementary tool for participatory processes based on visual tools. It thus offers a step-by-step process to guide practitioners, from simple concepts and examples to key elements for practical application. In doing so, a knowledge service logic has been introduced as a response to the challenges of professionals, business managers or civil servants for combining technical assistance with expert advice and horizontal interactions with the purpose of achieving a collective understanding of socio-technical systems as part of the co-design process for a portfolio of transformative activities. As a result, the Transitions Hub has produced different types of knowledge visualizations such as posters, dashboards and other material that can be found in its website.

This methodology is in constant evolution and should not be considered an exact formula. Indeed, it is precisely its adaptability to new environments that has been fundamental to its success. In fact, this publication would not have been possible without the support of a broad community of practitioners working on addressing system innovation within cities, regions, and countries. They have provided new insights and joined us on the journey of translating what we have learnt together into practice-based knowledge.

The system mapping process facilitates learning by enabling a collective understanding of societal problems as part of the combined system assessment and co-design process for a portfolio of transformative activities. System mapping enables the engagement of people who recognise knowledge as an asset. See an example about the implementation of this approach as part of the collaboration between TIPC and the Transitions Hub here.


EIT Climate-KIC is a European knowledge and innovation community, working towards a prosperous, inclusive, climate-resilient society founded on a circular, zero-carbon economy. Last year, TIPC interviewed its CEO, Kirsten Dunlop, on what TIP research is needed.

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