The Envisioning Phase simply means - everything that needs to happen to get a
project underway - before there is something meaningful to look at.
map doesn't yet exist for a specific group, and you want the group to
make one - you're envisioning. You wear the 'Visionary Hat
Your imagination is engaged with what could exist, but you can't make
it happen on your own - because Social System Mapping is an inherently
You need others to support the project, inform the survey design/connection questions/informational texts, participate in a pilot test, review & give feedback on a prototype map. It doesn't require the whole network to engage up front - using the 'Show Them Don't Persuede Them Principle'
lowers the bar on getting buy-in. But you DO need at least a few people to help push beyond the envisioning phase to the point where the is something to show.
Promotion is ongoing. It involves pitching the idea to a client or a network you're part of, inviting network members to be part of the development & design process, getting network members to share info about themselves and their network connections, and enticing network members to engage with the map. There is always another layer to gain insight into, so there's always a need to imagine how that could be done. The core Visionary
work is perpetually essential - helping others imagine what's possible, from each phase to the next, through-out the cycle.
Developing a map is relatively easy, but designing a map that a network will find increasingly useful over time requires involving key members of the community. Every project needs at least a couple people who are willing to be advocates for the project, in addition to the Visionary and the Technician.
Developing your survey/profile and connection questions is the most important part of the envisioning phase (after catalyzing the project in the first place). Those questions define and limit what's possible to map, and the more specific they are to needs of your specific network, the better the outcome will be. But keep in mind - everyone's insight into what's relevant and necessary to greater collective insight will change over time as the mapping SenseMaking deepens. So be ok with ongoing tweaks or drastic changes, and coach your Advocates to be ok with that as well.