Causal Loop Diagrams: How To Enhance Your System Thinking

Popularised in Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, causal loop diagrams provide a diagramming approach to mapping out the cause and effect landscape in a wider system.
The technique seems to have been overlooked in modern times, and yet it is a powerful tool to evaluate and discover virtuous or vicious cycles in the system and trade-off balances between opposing forces.

This technique is much more powerful and yet more subtle than the five whys or other root cause analysis techniques, and looks to map out the upstream causes and downstream effects in a dynamic environment. High-end diagrams can illustrate areas of high pressure that either perpetuate a negative loop (vicious cycle) or a positive loop (virtuous cycle.) This approach has helped me enormously in understanding how to position an Agile adoption that is sensitive the dynamics at play in a program or enterprise landscape, most often when the solution or combination of solutions are not immediately obvious.

This talk will present some simple techniques to help you to use causal loop diagrams to map out your own systems and contexts and become aware of the cause and effects within your landscape.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

Intro - 5 mins

  • What are Causal Loop diagrams and how can they be used.

Building a Causal Loop visual language - 15 mins

  • Working through a legend and simple systems to begin to build a visual language

Case Studies - 18 mins

  • 5 x case studies where I have used Causal Loop diagrams to enhance my wider perspective of the cause and effect landscape and provide a surgical approach to Agile Coaching

Wrap up - 2 mins

Learning Outcome

An initial approach to using Causal Loop diagrams to help attendees get started on visualising their contexts and landscapes to make good decisions.

Target Audience

Anyone interested in systems thinking or agile coaching

schedule Submitted 2 months ago

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