MePSS Webtool - Tool (Level 4)

Worksheet W07 - System Analysis 2 - Cross Impact Analysis
Table of Contents
1. Objective
2. Putting into Practice
3. Implementation
4. Software, templates and other support
5. Call on Resources
6. Literature, examples and background information

Objective Table of Contents

The Cross Impact Analysis is based on the result of the Variable’s Checklist: describing the company’s system (Worksheet 6 - Part 1 of the System Analysis). The Cross Impact Analysis reflects the “genetic reservoir” of a system including its latent possibilities. The objective of this tool is to discuss the direct influence of the relevant variables characterizing the present system. The cross impact analysis enables to characterise the selected variables according to their mutual influence in order to identify the active levers for addressing the decision process/generation of PSS ideas.

Application of this tool fosters an efficient and straightforward discussion about the driving and stabilising issues that determine the current system. The discussion should be take place amongst the participants. The different stakeholders views will put a solid basis for building a common vision.

Therefore it is strongly recommended to use the tool with the participants that applied the Variable’s Checklist: describing the company’s system (Worksheet 6 - Part 1 of the System Analysis), and preferably in the same workshop session.

Putting into Practice Table of Contents

2.1 When and why should this tool be used?

The tool will be used after finalising the definition of relevant variables in Worksheet 6. Its application supports the finding of an orientation for new PSS and represents the second activity of system analysis.

2.2 Who should use this tool?

This tool should be used during a workshop to orient the discussion between actors. It is recommended that the workshop participants use the tool in small working groups (up to 6 persons) to allow effective discussion processes. Thereafter the PSS Champion should lead the discussion and integrate all the inputs to a final shared matrix.

Implementation Table of Contents

3.1 How should this tool be used?

Step 1 – Group discussion for filling in the cross impact matrix

Using figure 1, the impacts of each variable on the others are assessed during an individual brainstorming and the following group discussion. This can be done in different sub-groups to limit the time necessary for discussion.

For each variable, its influence on all other variables is considered: “If the variable X changes, how big is the impact on variable Y?”. The answer is given in the form of a score between 0 (no impact) and 3 (high impact).

Time necessary for ranking the relations is a useful indicator of the knowledge shared by the participants and the leader has to keep trace of this hidden (out of the matrix) information, in order to better address the following discussions (e.g. the interpretation of the system and the choice of the representative “active” variables..).

Figure 1: Cross Impact Matrix

Step 2 – Sum up the scores

In this step, the sums are calculated for the lines (active sum) and the columns (passive sum).

The individual behaviour of the variables is represented by the values of the active-sum (AS) and the passive-sum (PS). The active sum represents the ability of an individual variable to influence all other variables in the system, whereas passive sum is a corresponding value for the reaction of the variable due to changes of other variables in the system.

Step 3 – Visualisation and Interpretation of Cross Impact Analysis (CIA)

The results are depicted in a diagram that is segmented into different zones. According to the zone they appear in, the variables show typical characteristics.

Active variables allow effective changes in the system and thus have the potential to re-stabilize it in a new state. They are of major interest for the design process of PSS (Scenario Building, Worksheet 17).

Critical variables have to be handled with caution because they have big potential for driving and changing processes, but they can easily get out of control, or destabilize the system.

Variables in the reactive zone represent important indicators but have no steering potential.

Buffers have a limited effect on the system, and the neutral zone provides variables for self-regulation but again no good candidates for steering.

The variables represented by their line and column sums are depicted in the format figure 2:

Figure 2:Variable interpretation

Results are then interpreted via a group discussion to identify the most promising candidates among the variables that are useful for scenario building (Worksheet 17).

3.2 Result

Result of this analysis is the systematic identification of appropriate options for scenario development using the active variables in the system, based on the final variable representation (fig2).

For the further development of PSS scenarios, mainly variables with a high active potential (high AS, low PS) are investigated. Focusing on these variables in the following procedure leads to incisive scenarios – see description of the example “Auro Surface Service”. The critical variables do have a high relevance for designing and implementing PSS, they have a high dynamic potential but should be handled with caution .

These results represents the strategic potential of a system, the dynamic system behaviour is analysed in the tool System’s Feedback Diagram (Worksheet 8 - Part 3 of the System Analysis toolset).

3.3 Input needed/ data required/ data acquisition process

The tool itself needs only sufficient commitment and motivation of the participants. Therefore a well prepared moderator is needed to deal with quite different situations – business people often need time to leave their every day perspective and way of thinking and need some support to widen their system view and to dare deal with System thinking. System thinking can indeed seem to be abstract and the results quite vague for non-experienced participants.

Software, templates and other support Table of Contents

4.1 Software

No software is needed for using the tool. The standard Excel software program will be useful.

4.2 Templates and other support

A copy of the forms from this worksheet for all participants in the meeting or workshop is useful.

Call on Resources Table of Contents

5.1 Personnel and time needed

The time requested to prepare and conduct a workshop can vary. The workshop itself is ½ to 1 day long.

Literature, examples and background information Table of Contents

6.1 Methodological References

Excerpt from different publications of Frederic Vester and Robert Wimmer’s experience in two case studies (Grat). Please refer to