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Appendix C: Systems Resources


Systems Principles

Systems principles are key ideas that repeat across time and within multiple contexts.

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Summary of Systems Tools

A short summary of key tools to help teach and understand systems.

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Barry Richmond’s Systems Thinking Skills

This set of thinking skills provides a framework for looking at any situation, whether current, theoretical, or historical. Practice the skills one at a time or in concert with one another.

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Introduction to Behavior Over Time Graphs (BOTGs)

BOTGs are usually a good starting point. Find data where possible and be clear when graphs represent mental models versus research findings.

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Connection Circles (CCs)

CCs are used for identifying important elements in a system and how they affect each other. Tracing causal connections can help find feedback loops.

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Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs)

Complex systems usually have “competing loops” – try to find reinforcing loops and balancing loops that may be in conflict.

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Stock/Flow Diagrams and System Dynamics Models

Stock/Flow Diagrams show how things actually work. System Dynamics models use math to simulate Stock/Flow diagrams over time.

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Naming and Labeling

Tips and techniques to help with naming and labeling in Causal Loop Diagrams and Stock/Flow models.

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Simulations

Simulations help compress time and space, so rather than having to wait a hundred years to see a particular result, a simulator can reveal that result quickly and in a contained space, either real or virtual.

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Iceberg Visual

The iceberg provides a frame for looking beyond events to exploring a system more deeply - looking for trends, structures and mental models within. Because complex systems problems resist change, seeing a system through the lens of an iceberg can help reveal what’s generating behaviors seen.

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Archetypes and other Generic Models

Archetypes (and other generic models) can help in the transfer of knowledge about a specific subject to other situations. Viewing behavior in a broader interdisciplinary context can reveal repeating patterns and increase understanding of potential outcomes that may be counterproductive to one’s goals.

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System Dynamics Modeling Software

System Dynamics Modeling software comes in many shapes and sizes. One size does not fit all. These are a few that may be helpful for beginners who wish to get into more sophisticated modeling.

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