The concept of Behaviour over Time                                             Previous

The most important aspect of CLD’s is that they are designed to provide clear explanations of the “behaviour over time” (BOT) of organizational systems.  They begin with a description of client issue graphed over the some time period, here the impact of donor restrictions as a result of a decline in donor health, which was attributed to the frequency of blood donations and the base blood count of the donors. The central issue for the client is shown in the BOT graph below.

 Once the  time-based dynamic of the client’s problem has been established, it is possible to build the causal relationships around that problem.

The development of a CLD explores the relationships that surround the issue.  One of the most important elements of the CLD is the identification of feedback loops within the system under consideration.  This model is an example of a feedback system where Appeals increase Donations, which in turn increase Blood Stocks leading to a declining need for Appeals. This is an example of a balancing loop that brings the system back into some equilibrium state.  The  counterintuitive effect of this approach was that the Appeals tended to bring in donors who would  normally donate later in the year, effectively “drawing forward” their donations. This meant that when their scheduled donation was due, they had already donated. This shortfall in donors  had the potential to lead to  another round of appeals. this is an example of reinforcing loop, where the behaviour of the system forces a repetition of that behaviour.

The application of CLDs in the business context allows us to explore the dynamics of client issues.  Often the client will think of a problem as being manifested a certain point of time.  CLDs help understand the time based dynamics of the problem.  This often produces new and different insights for the client.  It also helps identify how some issues may maybe unintended consequences of previous policies.