Systems Thinking Tools for Understanding, Visualization and Communication!

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Innovations often have multiple repercussions both intended and unintended.  Systems modelling is a powerful means to  understand interactions and their consequences.  It can give insights into what types of solutions work and what types of variables create impacts and which don’t.  Not only should it be required teaching for design, engineering and business professionals, there should be a mandatory course in systems thinking held on Capitol Hill.

Personally, I’ve been extremely busy with a project lately modelling a physiological system as a prerequisite to optimizing a medical product design.  I’ve been using Insight Maker, which I blogged about before.  Check out the SystemsWiki, very cool and full of tons of info.  Insight Maker is simple to understand, very powerful, and since it’s web-based, it’s a great tool for collaborative system analysis, modelling and design.

There are two other modelling tools that are both free and have newer releases recently:

1. TRUE  It stands for  Temporal Reasoning Universal Elaboration  This package is amazing!  I haven’t used it extensively but it actually enables modeling of physical systems  and how they move(think articulated robots and multi-body interactions!)  I want to learn the interface as this looks extremely powerful.

2.Sphinx SD Another free tool that is also somewhat simpler to get a hang of than TRUE.  It’s still not at version 1.0, but seems to be going in the right direction.  Documentation doesn’t seem extensive, but it’s still work checking out.

Finally, there is a new tool called Kumu. It’s also free if you make your work public.  In some ways it’s a hybrid between a concept map  (I love  Cmap and VUE, both of which keep getting better and better!)and a mind map.  (A great list of Mind Mapping and Concept Mapping software is here.)  If you want to easily build representations of systems, Kumu is for you. Some great informational tutorials there as well.

I’m sure there are other tools out there, but the above are key to my work and they don’t cost a thing.  Would love to hear what you use! If you’re not using any system modelling tools, check out this video that highlights how a seemingly innocuous change can make a huge difference in an ecosystem.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michael Plishka
Michael Plishka is the President and Founder of ZenStorming Solutions, LLC an innovation design consultancy. He believes in co-design methodologies, sharing design thinking essentials - empowering people and companies to make a difference with their products and services.

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