Systems%20Diagrams

Systems%20Diagrams - Systems Diagrams Understanding how...

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Systems Diagrams Understanding how factors effect one another © iStockphoto/mevans System diagrams are powerful tools that help you to understand how complex systems work. Systems analyzed may be anything from businesses, through biological population models, to the impact of social policy, etc. System diagrams are particularly helpful in showing you how a change in one factor may impact elsewhere. They are excellent tools for flushing out the long term impacts of a change. Importantly, a good system diagram will show how changing a factor may feed back to affect itself! Drawing a system diagram is a good way of starting to build a computer model. The technique helps you to map out the structure of the system to be modeled. It shows the factors and relationships that are important, and helps you to start quantifying the linkages between factors. How to Use the Tool Relationships between factors: At the heart of the use of system diagrams is the idea of linking factors to show a relationship between them. For example a company may link the factors of product quality and customer satisfaction. It believes that as the quality of its goods change, so will customers' happiness with them. We show this as an arrow linking the two factors: The S shows that the factors move in the Same way – as quality improves, so will the happiness of customers. The arrow shows the direction of the relationship: raising customer happiness does not necessarily raise the quality of the goods! These relationships can also work the other way. The company may link price with the customers' perceptions of the 'good value' of its goods. This is shown below: The O shows that the relationship works in the opposite way: in this case as you raise price, customers' perceptions of good value reduce. Feedback Loops: Feedback is an important concept in the use of system diagrams – in very many cases changing one factor will impact on another factor, which will then affect the first. Feedback will either reduce the impact of the change, or will amplify it.
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Balancing Loops: Where feedback reduces the impact of a change, we call this a Balancing Loop. The example below shows an example of a balancing loop, where an under-resourced service company is trying to raise quality: In this situation, improving the quality of service leads to improved customer satisfaction, which leads to an increase in demand for the company's service. In trying to meet this demand, the company has less time to devote to individual customers, which reduces its ability to improve quality further. Note the small circular arrow in the middle of the loop. This shows which way round the loop is running. In complex diagrams
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Systems%20Diagrams - Systems Diagrams Understanding how...

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