The systemic complexity of managing a pandemic

A systems map example for #covid19

To try and make sense of factors affecting the management of a pandemic, I created a systems map. This is in no way a complete picture, and certainly not a verified one, but a way of showing the potential complexity. For myself it’s a way to summarize and reflect on much of what I’ve seen in the last month’s reporting.

Examples of the factors at play when looking at how to mitigate spread of disease, and how they may affect one another. The idea is that each factor must be evaluated regularly to support reflective reasoning when making plans of action.

P.S. If anyone has experience in making a diagram like this accessible for more people, I welcome your suggestions on going about this in the best way.

Per Axbom

Per Axbom


Per Axbom is a Swedish communication theorist born in Liberia. For two decades he has educated digital professionals and helped organizations with digital usability and accessibility. Per makes tech safe and compassionate through design, coaching and teaching. You can hear his voice on UX Podcast.

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Hi Per: An original and much welcome contribution that surpasses existing thinking. My simple suggestion is an input / output diagram: create an output: it could be: Mapping: Monitoring and Managing a pandemic as a: Complex Adaptive System. Many of the inputs you have already described: but you are right: nobody has described them yet because they are emergent: real time emergent and will need to be added to as they emerge. We (Humanity) has never experienced anything quite like this and nobody is an expert. There is however a distinct lack of Intellectual Humility about: your contribution might make… Read more »