surrey logo

logo EPSRC


Finding the Right Tools

based on Your Questions


The users of SteerPlex come from a wide range of roles and organisations, meaning the questions you have are diverse. You are often managing processes with multiple steps, rather than single decision points, meaning there are different types of questions you focus on. Are there certain types of question you often ask? Are you typically looking for alternative strategies or policies, or trying to understand what effect a previous decision had, or simply wanting to understand an issue more deeply? 

SteerPlex, breaks questions into four types:

1. Understanding: 
Seeking to improve our understanding of an issue
2. Identification: 
Seeking to explore what possible alternatives exist
3. What if?: 
Seeking to understand what might happen if we take some decision
4. Evaluation: 
Seeking to understand what the outcome was of some decision

Example Questions

Here are some example questions, split by type of question, and type of organisation:

  UNDERSTANDING        IDENTIFICATION                           WHAT IF?         EVALUATION
  • Who are my key suppliers?
  • What alternative strategies could we adopt?
  • What effect will this have on our bottom line?
  • How has our supply chain changed?
  • Who has most influence?
  • How do we think 'outside the box'?
  • How might we better use evidence in our advocacy?
  • Was that government policy successful?
  • Where is the 'problem' occurring?
  • How can we listen to the public better?
  • How does this policy compare with others in terms of cost, effect and participation?
  • What effect did the policy have on certain groups? 


The following tools in SteerPlex can help you address Understanding type questions:

  1. Fuzzy Cognitive Maps: 'Mapping' the actors, factors and causal dynamics in a system with other stakeholders in that system can help us to understand how others see the system, expose our blindspots, and help us begin to understand what are the key elements in the system.
  2. Complex Control Tool: Deeper analysis of Fuzzy Cognitive Maps allows us to further understand how the factors, actors and causal dynamics of system affect and feedback on each other, and help us identify important elements in the system. 
  3. Spatial Networks: By explicitly including physical distance when generating network graphs, our Spatial Network approach allows you to consider the effects of this often important factor in network dynamics.
  4. Agent-based models (ePROBE OR INFoRM): Designing, building and analysing agent-based models offers a rigorous and detailed methodology for understanding the actors, interactions and overall behaviour of a system. There are often significant insights derived from simply designing a model with other stakeholders, in addition to the more traditional insights gained from running simulations under different scenarios.


 Related Content

Our Approach: Understand the system

Concepts: EmergencePath DependenceSelf-organisationTipping PointsNetworks 


The following tools in SteerPlex can help you address Identification type questions:

  1. Waste-2-Resource: This tool offers specific guidance for identifying ways in which you can turn current waste products into useful resources for yourself and others.
  2. Complex Control Tool: Identifying the key factors, actors and leverage points in any system, both those that are well-known and more counter-intuitive examples, allows us to consider alternative strategies for managing that system.


Related Content

Our Approach: Identify Scenarios, Choose Goals, Find Levers, Interventions, Monitor

Concepts: Path DependenceTipping PointsNetworks  

What if?

The following tools in SteerPlex can help you address What if? type questions:

  1. Agent-based models (ePROBE OR INFoRM): Running simulations using agent-based models under different scenarios (i.e., different policies, different strategies) allows us to compare outcomes under any number of different assumptions we may have about the future.
  2. EMBER: Advanced and intelligent analysis of models' parameter spaces allows us to understand better how a system behaves under a range of assumptions and scenarios.  
  3. FIITT Serious Game: 'Playing' serious games allows your employees and colleagues to understand what might be the outcome of certain decisions and actions.
  4. Spatial Networks: By manipulating the spatially explicit network graph we develop with the Spatial Networks tool, we can begin to understand how changes in network node's spatial grouping may affect the network.


Related Content

Our Approach: Identify ScenariosInterventions


The following tools in SteerPlex can help you address Evaluation type questions:

  1. Complex Control Tool: Building causal models of your system before and after an intervention can allow the Complex Control Tool methodology to analyse how this has effected the system and its leverage points.
  2. Fuzzy Cognitive Maps: Similarly, building fuzzy cognitive maps after an intervention can help us understand how others see the effects of that intervention.


Related Content

Our Approach: Monitor, Adapt





Go to top