Representing balancing systems

Being a fan of both Peter Senge (systems thinking) and Joseph Novak (concept mapping) it is natural for me to combine (what I consider) the best of the two.  The original representation of a balancing loop (first picture) can be found in Senge’s Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (p. 120). The concept map (second picture), drawn with Novak’s free Cmap Tools, is mine.

Both pictures represent the same phenomenon, namely that of strongly oscillating number of visitors to a newly opened outpatient clinic of a Connecticut hospital.
In my view the propositional structure of Novak´s often self-explanatory concept maps is much more readily understandable than the admittedly elegant circular diagram of Senge. This is the more so, because Senge’s diagram only represents the situation where patient satisfaction goes down, something that could be avoided by using the more neutral linking phrase “(is a) function of” in the concept map. It is also directly apparent that the oscillating visiting numbers are caused by the two delayed functions. And by the way, the “B” in the middle stands for “balancing loop”or “balancing feedback” as does the seesaw in Senge’s picture.

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