Integrating argument mapping with systems thinking tools: Advancing applied systems science

Michael Hogan, Owen Harney, Benjamin Broome

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


In the absence of meaningful strategies to promote critical thinking, systems thinking, and social intelligence, it has been argued that algorithm-driven web technology will not only serve to damage human creativity, technology may ultimately reduce our collective intelligence. At the same time, the history of group decision-making in education, business, and public administration highlights that working groups often fail to solve complex problems because their method of collaborative problem solving is ineffective. Decades of research in social psychology and the learning sciences highlight the many limitations of group problem solving, including the tendency to focus on a limited set of ideas, select ideas based on biased ‘rules of thumb’, and failure to build trust, consensus and collective vision. A fundamental skill for resolving complex social and scientific problems is the ability to collectively visualise the structure of a shared problem, and use this knowledge to design solutions and strategies for collective action. In this chapter, we describe an approach to knowledge cartography that seeks to overcome three independent human limitations which impede our ability to resolve complex problems: poor critical thinking skills, no clear methodology to facilitate group coherence, consensus design and collective action, and limited computational capacities. Building on Warfield’s vision for applied systems sciences, we outline a new systems science tool which currently combines two thought structuring methodologies: Argument Mapping for critical thinking, and Interactive Management for system design. We further describe how teaching and learning a form of knowledge cartography grounded in applied systems science requires a vision around the development of Tools, Talents, and Teams. We also provide examples of how our approach to knowledge cartography and applied systems science has been used in business and educational settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvanced Information and Knowledge Processing
PublisherSpringer London
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameAdvanced Information and Knowledge Processing
ISSN (Print)1610-3947
ISSN (Electronic)2197-8441

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Artificial Intelligence


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