Covid-19: Understanding the context using systems thinking techniques


Covid-19: Understanding the context using systems thinking techniques


Starting 22 October 2020 13:00 through to 22 October 2020 14:00

One of perhaps the most complex global problems facing us today is the COVID-19 pandemic, with impacts on our global way of life.

Systems thinking is today a well-known and developed method of analysing and understanding complex problems. Its focus is not in solving the problem itself, but in better understanding the dynamics, complex relationships and potential causes and effects of the problem. Thus, allowing one to build models which emulate the problem and then can be used to develop and test possible solutions.

It also enables us to ask ‘what-if’ questions of the problem (e.g. the animations from specific nodes) and find patterns that we understand (e.g. system archetypes) in the problem.

The APM Systems Thinking Specific Interest Group, tried its hand at applying Causal Loop Diagrams, a technique in systems thinking, to see if they could better understand this complex COVID -19 pandemic. A working group within the SIG set about creating a COVID-19 Causal Loop Diagram model using the information of the events of COVID-19 in the UK. They then tried to identify some of the typical a systems archetypes which presented themselves in some of the loops within the overall model.

Their aim was to assess the speed and ease for non-experts to use a systems thinking tool, picking Causal Loop Diagrams, to get a better understanding of the complex COVID-19 problem. They found they needed to force themselves continually to look at the ‘big picture’ and not analyse any specific Cause-Effect loops. Their COVID-19 CLD is by no means comprehensive. It does however highlight some of the unforeseen consequences of the current actions taken.  

For more information and to book please visit the APM webinar page.

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