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  1. Get buy-in for the purpose of the diagram
  2. Diagrams are best built top down
  3. Use nouns (e.g. production) for variable names and the positive sense of the variable (e.g. encouragement)
  4. Don’t use the same variable more than once in a diagram
  5. Don’t include adjectives or descriptors (e.g. more, less)

How to use the tool to build your own CLD

The steps for constructing a Causal Loop Diagram are detailed below:

  1. Ensure you have a properly defined and agreed purpose for the diagram.
  2. Start with a key action, condition or client issue.

From here you can take a couple of approaches:

  1. Take the fundamental factor of the client issue
  2. Identify what causes it and what it causes and connect them using arrows,
  3. Develop the model by telling the story the causal connections the grow from this first cause diagram
  4. Draw the links between the variables they are directly related and label each link as S (same) or O (opposite).
  5. Look for further links that could complete feedback loops.
  6. Ensure that as much behaviour is possible is developed endogenously.

OR

  1. Make an initial list all the potential key variables that affect the key action or condition and decide if they are intrinsic to the business system (e.g. production times) or outside the system (e.g. macroeconomic factors).
  2. Revise the list, adding necessary variables and deleting unnecessary ones.
  3. Set out the variables in a coherent structure on one page.
  4. Draw the links between the variables they are directly related and label each link as S (same) or O (opposite).
  5. Look for further links that could complete feedback loops.
  6. Ensure that as much behaviour is possible is developed endogenously.

Note: Once the diagram is completed, you should look for the high-level messages and insights and check that they are sensible, yet novel.

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