Giga-mapping is a comprehensive visualization method used for mapping complex problems, based on the principles of systemic design. It combines elements of mind maps, diagrams, user scenarios, and collages to provide a holistic understanding of the problem and its broader contexts.


Gigamapping is a systems-oriented design technique that creates large-scale, comprehensive maps to visualize complex relationships, processes, and systems. By encompassing multiple layers and dimensions, Gigamapping helps in understanding intricate connections and dynamics. It's particularly useful in systemic design, urban planning, and interdisciplinary research, where holistic thinking and integrative solutions are required. Gigamapping fosters collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking in tackling complex challenges.

Suitable for

  • comprehensive problem description through visualization
  • analysis of contexts and processes
  • connecting apparently unrelated areas


System Relations Diagram

A visual representation using a diagrammatic format, depicting the relationships and interconnections between various elements within the system in focus.

Boundary Definition Document

A written document capturing the scope, limitations, and boundaries of the system being studied, as well as identifying stakeholders and their roles.

Hierarchical Layers Map

A visual representation illustrating the hierarchical structure of the system, including various layers and their connections or dependencies on each other.

Problem Articulation and System Goals

A textual description of the primary problems to be addressed within the context of the system and the specific goals or objectives of the giga-mapping exercise.

Relevant Historical Timeline

A visual representation showing the historical development and key milestones of the system being examined, helping to provide context and understanding of its evolution over time.

Data Collection Sheet

A structured document or spreadsheet used to accumulate and organize relevant data and information gathered from various sources during the giga-mapping process.

Synthesis Board

A visual display or arrangement of synthesized information, identifying patterns, trends, and insights that have emerged through the giga-mapping process.

Scenario Modeling

A set of potential future scenarios developed through the analysis of the giga-map, illustrating various possible outcomes and consequences based on the current understanding of the system.

Insights Summary and Action Plan

A consolidated report outlining key insights derived from the giga-mapping process and proposing an actionable plan to address identified problems or leverage opportunities within the system.

Iterative Feedback and Improvement

A documented process for incorporating feedback and refining the giga-map, as well as the overall approach, to continuously improve understanding, accuracy, and effectiveness of the deliverables.



Understand the problem and context

Before starting the Giga-Mapping process, conduct preliminary research to understand the problem and its context. Gather information about the stakeholders, goals, and challenges involved. This step helps to form a clear understanding of the subject, which is essential for creating an effective Giga-Map.


Determine the boundaries and scope

Define the extent of the Giga-Map by determining the boundaries and the scope. This includes identifying the elements and aspects that should be included, and those that are beyond the scope of the map. The scope should be broad enough to capture the complexity of the system, while also being manageable.


Gather data and resources

Collect relevant data and information related to the problem and its context. This may include quantitative data, qualitative insights, visual materials, previous research, and any other resources needed to understand the relationships and interconnections within the system. Assembling a diverse range of data sources is crucial to create a comprehensive Giga-Map.


Identify and categorize elements

Analyze the collected data and identify the critical elements and components within the system. Categorize these elements into groups or layers, which may be defined by a specific theme (e.g., stakeholders, resources, processes, infrastructure). This organizational structure will help when arranging and connecting the elements on the Giga-Map.


Create a visual layout

Begin creating the Giga-Map by placing elements and categories onto the layout. Use visual design principles to dictate the placement and overall visual balance of the components. Ensure that the elements are positioned logically and coherently, allowing for easy interpretation of the map.


Establish connections and relationships

Identify and explore the relationships, connections, and flows between the elements within the system. Connect the elements using lines, arrows, or other visual indicators that depict the nature of these interactions (e.g., hierarchical relationship, bidirectional flow). Capturing these connections will reveal patterns and interdependencies within the system.


Annotate and refine the Giga-Map

Add notes, labels, and explanations to provide context and details, ensuring the map is informative and easy to understand. Continuously refine the Giga-Map by adjusting the layout, adding or removing elements, and reevaluating the connections. Iterate on the map until it accurately represents the complexity of the problem and its context.


Share, analyze, and discuss

Share the Giga-Map with stakeholders, team members, and collaborators to gather feedback and insights. Engage in discussions about the map, identifying areas of interest, patterns, and potential solutions to the problem. The Giga-Map serves as a tool for facilitating dialogue and understanding, fostering a collaborative approach to problem-solving.


Use Giga-Map to inform decision making

Utilize the Giga-Map in the decision-making process, identifying opportunities for intervention or improvement. Leveraging the comprehensive understanding of the system provided by the Giga-Map, propose and evaluate potential solutions, and develop a strategic plan for implementation.

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