Reducing complexity in conceptual thinking using challenge mapping

Basadur, M.S. (2003). Reducing complexity in conceptual thinking using challenge mapping. The International Journal of Thinking and Problem Solving. Vol. 13 (2), pp 5-7.


It is often difficult for groups of people to think together innovatively, especially in situations which are ill-defined and involve complex issues. A unique conceptual thinking method for reducing complexity and identifying strategic and tactical challenges (goals) and relating them to one another is introduced. The method, Challenge Mapping, can be deliberately applied to help individuals, groups and whole organizations think through, clarify and conceptualize complex, ambiguous, and strategic issues and increase understanding of fuzzy situations both form big picture and specific standpoints. Challenge Mapping is a special tool of the Simplex system of applied creativity which synergizes analytical and imaginative thinking through four stages, emphasizing problem generation and conceptualization prior to solution development and implementation. Such emphasis is not taught in formal education. On the contrary, most students leave school totally immersed in the solutions they have learned, then find that in every day work these solutions don’t often match the ill-structured problems they encounter. The most important skill needed seems to be finding and defining the right problems to work on. Examples of real world applications of Challenge Mapping are shared.

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