Each year, the cost of a college education continues to rise and more and more students must turn to student loans to complete their education. But as graduates leave college to embark on their careers, they face an almost Sisyphean struggle with student debt, forever facing an uphill battle while carrying a heavy burden, only to find they are getting nowhere! Whether you are graduating from college or just entering, we hope this model will enable you to better understand student loans and help plan for your future.
This is our first model in the From Imagination to Simulation series. It is a nod to the Halloween season and investigates a zombie apocalypse! Our fascination with zombies continually grows with the help of movies, TV shows, and books that give a wide range of zombie possibilities. But what are the dynamics behind a zombie epidemic? This model will specifically look at the spread of a zombie outbreak and examine some of the variables that help and hinder the rate of infection. We hope you will continue to see the benefits and versatility of Systems Thinking and enjoy our new series, From Imagination to Simulation! Continue to ponder those out-of-the-ordinary problems. They may seem unrealistic, but perhaps some of their dynamics may resonate with reality. Check out our zombie apocalypse model to see if there is any chance for human survival!
Do you ever feel like work is taking over your life? Burnout is generally characterized as a state of mental and physical exhaustion resulting in low productivity and de-personalization and is most likely caused by prolonged stress that does not dissipate. There are many different aspects that affect both the building and dissipation of burnout. This model focuses on workloads and vacations to see how they contribute to both your level of burnout and productivity. Use this model to ask questions about your workload and any benefits you would receive from taking a vacation. What happens when you suddenly have a bigger workload? What happens when work piles up? Does vacation increase or decrease your stress levels?
Explore a consulting firm’s headcount strategy. Understand the relationship between growth rates, promotion times, headcount pyramid ratios, and attrition rates. This model is based on actual work that was done with a very well-known consulting company (here, code-named TWBC, Inc.). The firm's strategic goals were well-articulated, and each made sense when written down in a list on a piece of paper. However, when subjected to the more rigorous, dynamic scrutiny that an iThink modeling effort provides, the goals (as is too often the case) turned out to be in conflict with one another--stimulating actions that worked at cross-purposes. Efforts to achieve one goal drove the firm farther away from achieving the others. The subsequent analysis conducted with the model also pointed the way toward resolving the internal strategic inconsistencies and putting the firm back onto a strategically sound growth path.
A look at disaster relief under uncertain local government scenarios. It looks at how long it might take to establish clean water thru flying in bottled water and constructing wells. There is also the impact on spread of disease and survival due to lack of water. Created by Mark Heffernan and George McDonnel
Use this learning lab to investigate the housing crisis. Play with interest rates as if you are Chairman of the Federal Reserve and see the impact on housing supply and demand. What happens when banks relax mortgage requirements and more people qualify to buy homes?
Agriculture offers many modeling opportunities. In this Systems in Focus, we look at the life cycle of a dairy herd, including milk production. This model could be used as the basis for methane production control, trade agreements about milk and how that impacts herd size, increasing production with demand, etc. Visit https://iseesystems.com/resources/systems-in-focus/agriculture/ for more information.
Innovation often raises concerns about job losses, increasingly so in the past century with widespread automation and advanced artificial intelligence. Should we start to fear for our job security or will the creative potential in society maintain the labor force? Explore this model to see some of the interesting possibilities!
Business cycles are a fact of life for many industries. Market demand peaks one year only to plummet a year or two later. In this case study of a semiconductor business, Henk Akkermans, Professor of Supply Network Dynamics at Tilburg University, explores different policy options for order handling, production planning and capacity management to reduce oscillation and improve system performance.
This simple model explores the demand dynamics for a state's energy usage. For three sectors (residential, industrial, and agricultural) you can adjust the size of initial user base, the growth rate for the number of users, and the rate for the change in demand per user.
Experience the dynamics of making a business shift from traditional to e-commerce. Simulate different scenarios for how you’ll allocate spending on marketing versus infrastructure. You will see one of the more common dynamics in making a business shift, what Systems Thinkers refer to as the "worse before better" dynamic. If initial investments are made in the infrastructure quality rather than in marketing, total customers will actually fall for awhile. But if increasing amounts are spent on marketing (once the infrastructure is in place) then total customers will begin to explode. And the transition becomes successful!
Keystone species are defined as a plant or animal that plays a unique role in the way the ecosystem functions. But what would happen if that species were removed? What ripple effects would be caused by the absence of this species? We can examine these questions by looking at the wolf population in Yellowstone National Park. Wolves once flourished in Yellowstone and its surrounding areas. However, soon after the area was settled, misperceptions caused by fear and hatred fueled a large extermination effort of the wolves. For nearly 70 years, wolves were absent from Yellowstone. During this time, the ecosystem changed and diminished until scientists realized the value of the wolves and reintroduced them to Yellowstone. This model, built in iThink, uses storytelling to understand the dynamics of this keystone species. What animals were affected by their presence or absence. See how wolves play a part in not only population control of their prey but other animals and even plants far down the trophic levels.
One organization in the service delivery business experienced a situation where the number of delivery requests increased dramatically due to a seasonal promotion. This increase in requests caused an overload on the service delivery staff by not only having more people requesting service, but also because the amount of time spent with each customer increased. This model is designed to describe why this occurred in a way that can be transferable to other service delivery organizations.
Can Energy Prices Really Be Passed on to the Consumer? Energy literally fuels every aspect of today's economy. When energy costs increase, many businesses will increase prices thereby "passing on" the cost to consumers. This story helps to explain some of the broader reaching impacts of such a policy. This model was created by Steve Peterson.
In a pioneering attempt, isee systems hosted a Community Model Building webinar on Drought in California, a severe and complex issue facing humanity. We discussed live with the community what the main problem variables are and how they change over time. We then built a qualitative model (causal loop diagram) based on participants' input. This quantitative model (stock and flow diagram) model was built in the background, representing the discussion.
On July 24th, 2009 the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), commonly known as "Cash for Clunkers," began processing rebate claims. The $1 billion appropriated for the system was exhausted just SIX days later. This simulation explores an alternative program that is self-sustaining AND reduces automobile emissions. Using a combination of fees and rebates this program can finance itself (no emergency appropriations from Congress), reduce gasoline consumption (putting cash back in consumer's pockets), AND contribute to cleaner air for us all!
Explore the laws of thermodynamics with this animal temperature model. As you experiment, think about animal adaptations and consider the following: What problems do small animals face compared to large animals in hot and cold environments? What problems do cold-blooded (poiklothermic) animals face compared to warm-blooded (homeothermic) animals? What is it that insulation really does for animals? The story behind this model is explained in a chapter of Tracing Connections
One of the most challenging tasks in most organizations is the allocation of headcount between time-competing activities. In this model, you will have a chance to explore these sorts of dynamics in the context of a consulting firm, where the same headcount can be allocated to business development activities and client service delivery. You'll see the classic pattern of "Feast or Famine," or the so-called "pig in a snake," emerge.
Whose coffee cools faster? This question quickly becomes relevant for the president and the prime minister as they travel together in a plane. Understand the cooling process. Then experiment with a cooling model.
Use this virtual laboratory to explore the plot and character development in one of Shakespeare's widely read plays . What would happen if Hamlet where a “man of actions” as opposed to a “man of thought?” How would different characterizations change both the timing and the overall ending of the play?
This Story of the Month reissue examines the complexities of school reform. Inspired by a major school reform effort in Philadelphia, this story explores some of the potential unintended consequences. What happens when the focus of "fixing schools" becomes increasing scores on standardized tests? The Story of the Month series was originally issued starting in May of 2001. While many things have changed since then, many of the issues remain relevant. From corporate corruption, to terrorism, to greenhouse gasses, each story analyzed a past headline news topic from a systems thinking perspective. These topics were modeled using STELLA or iThink with the hopes to gain perspective on the system, stimulate discussion and perhaps adjust our assumptions. isee systems has been re-releasing each Story of the Month from our archives, as originally developed, with an easy-to-access isee Sim Exchange.
Simulation showing min, max and average temperatures in the United States by month.