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Drawing systems diagrams

Examples of Systems Map and Influence Diagram


Imagine you are the CEO of a hospital with an A&E (Accident & Emergency) department. For this exercise suppose you have the problem that newly admitted accident and emergency (A&E) patients spend an unacceptable time waiting on trolleys in a corridor next to the admissions unit because there are no clinical beds available due to bed blocking.

To keep this exercise simple, assume that for you the relevant things are the admissions unit, the admissions corridor, the clinical ward, the discharge unit, residential homes, and patients’ homes.

(1) Draw a system map of the system you manage.

As you do this remember that a system map shows the system elements inside the system boundary and the environment elements outside the boundary. To help you decide what is inside and outside the system you manage, recall that the things you can control are inside, and the things you cannot control are outside.

(2) Draw an influence diagram for this system.

As another simplification, assume that the only relevant influences these things have on each other is transferring patients from one to another. The influences should be represented by arrows.

When you have drawn your diagrams, move to the next step to see how similar your diagrams are to ours.

You can share your drawings and receive comments on them on a Padlet wall here. Click the back button to return here..

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This article is from the free online course:

Systems Thinking and Complexity

UNESCO UNITWIN Complex Systems Digital Campus