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Linking event thinking with structural thinking: Methods to improve client value in projects

Howick, S.M. and Ackermann, F. and Andersen, D.F. (2006) Linking event thinking with structural thinking: Methods to improve client value in projects. System Dynamics Review, 22 (2). pp. 113-140.

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Using a participant-observer research design, a team of modelers designed and implemented modeling guidelines to link semantically rich scenario maps to a formal causal influence diagram of a running simulation model. This process serves to link event thinking to structural thinking. These guidelines were used in a case, which involved: (1) developing a cause model of scenarios of the promotion of renewable energy sources in the U.K. electric power market from material elicited from a client group; (2) creating a system dynamics model of the same area; and (3) an integration of products 1 and 2 which enabled an analysis of the scenarios using the simulation model. The first two products used standard approaches and are not new; however, the third represents the key output of the research. By linking products 1 and 2, the research aimed to create better client value in the project by combining, in a systematic way, the relevant elements of scenario maps and system dynamics models. The process allows client groups to visualize and comprehend the linkage between event thinking and structural thinking in a complex system. This work informs ongoing research in group model building, strategy modeling (especially using scenarios) and the ongoing debate about qualitative versus quantitative system dynamics.