ERAF Systems Diagram

Type of record:
  • Micro method
Handout PDF-Export Add experience
Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9
  11. 10


The ERAF Systems Diagram is a very efficient analysis tool to quickly get a holistic view on a system to be changed. Entities, relationships, attributes and directions of action are systematically examined and visually represented.

With this tool complex systems can be analyzed. If, for example, you want to innovate and understand systems such as a supermarket, a library, a salesroom or a production process, you are well equipped with this method.

Let's look at the four areas that the ERAF Systems Diagram analyzes per system:

Entities:The entities are the relevant main components of a system (persons, places, areas, things). In a supermarket, for example, these would be customers, staff, shelves, the checkout area, deposit return, parking spaces, etc.

Relationships: Here the way in which the individual entities are fundamentally connected with each other is described. Example: "The staff advises the customer", "Customer runs to return the deposit" and so on. Here we prefer to use verbs to describe the relationships between each other.

Attributes These are primarily the properties of the entities. It is about qualitative attributes, which also include brands, names, perceptions and emotions, as well as quantitative attributes such as quantity, age, size, cost, duration or other dimensions.

Flows: These are the directions of action or entities to each other. Effect directions can be temporary or represent a permanent process from input to output. Words such as "from/to", "in/out", "before/after" or "first/last" are used to describe the directions of action.

The ERAF Systems Diagram works on two levels. It synthesizes a system from all its components, and simultaneously analyzes a system to uncover existing or emerging problems, gaps, or disparities.
  • Effective for disruptive innovations
  • Effective for highly complex challenges
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for medium complex challenges
  • Effective for new business models
  • Effective for process innovations
  • Effective for product innovations
  • Effective for radical innovations
  • Effective for service innovations
  • P1 Understanding (identify innovation fields - problem solving)
  • P2 Analysis (problems - challenges - environment - people - products)
  • P4 Synthesize (create leading questions - take a stand)
Register now for free