Use Templates to make the most of your own Domains

Vithanco comes with a set of Domains, spanning different areas like Benefit Mapping, Concept Mapping, Causal Loop Diagrams or Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes. However, new use cases regularly require a new “language”. New node types and the right recommendations for predecessors and successors create a new syntax for the next diagram. It happens often to me that I adjust existing domains for a specific needs or even create a completely new domain. And these changes are often needed for the next time I create a new diagram for the same area.
For example, I once created a simple graphical language for writing text. It had only a few elements like “Fact”, “Conclusion”, “Experience”. I used it for a while whenever I was writing and sometimes still come back to it.
Templates were created based on user request. They fulfill the need to save local Domains. They are basically diagrams saved for simplified retrieval. Hence, save some nodes in your template and these nodes will be reproduced when you start a diagram based on that template. If you want to create a structure for the use of the domain as with the Evaporating Cloud then you can now do so!
Vithanco makes it easy to find a specific template again by showing relevant template information, like a diagram screenshot, the meta model and a description. If you have improved a template simply override it.
Loading and Saving Templates
Loading and Saving Templates
Access templates saving and loading from the file menu.
Finally, if you believe that you have a useful Domain, please send it to the developer team. We will gladly add good domains so they are available out-of-the-box.

Analyse Systems with Causal Loop Diagrams

Vithanco got a new diagram type. The Casual Loop Diagrams.

Why using Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs)?

Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) are a way to capture systems, to analyse them and to plan how to influence them. CLDs explain long-term behaviour of systems which is otherwise difficult to understand based if you only look at the current as-is snapshot.

CLDs describe systems via “stocks” (nodes) and connections (edges). Much of the day-to-day world can be accurately described as such a system. Let’s look at a simple example: A bank account and the interest earned.

Banking Account as a simple Causal Loop Diagram
  • The amount of the Bank Balance (a stock) will affect the amount of the Earned Interest (another stock), as represented by the connection, pointing from Bank Balance to Earned Interest.
  • Since an increase in Bank balance results in an increase in Earned Interest, this link is of the same kind, meaning more results in more. Interestingly, this even works for a negative amount in your bank account.
  • The Earned interest gets added to the Bank balance, also a link of the same kind, represented by the bottom connection.
  • The causal effect between these nodes forms a positive reinforcing loop, represented by the icon in the middle containing an “R” and showing the loop direction (clockwise).

This system is obviously only a part of bigger system that would include salary payments and withdrawals to live. But if left alone, the reinforcing loop points out that this system would lead to an uninterrupted growth of the two stocks involved.

A CLD is very useful to identify the loops that affect the systems’ behaviour. Especially the separation between balancing and reinforcing loops provides meaningful insights into a system’s behaviour as shown in the following table.

Loop Type Description
Balancing Balancing loops have an odd number of opposite connections (negative links).
Balancing loops are associated with reaching a plateau.
Reinforcing Reinforcing loops have an even number of opposite connections (negative links, please note that zero also is even).
Reinforcing loops are associated with exponential increases/decreases.

The example above with the bank account and the interest earned has a reinforcing loop, which based on compound interest does indeed show an exponential increase.

Loops are automatically identified by Vithanco.

Background on CLDs

Extensive research was done regarding systems (see as a starting point: Donella Meadows’ Thinking in Systems) as part of a body of knowledge called systems thinking. One interesting way of accessing systems thinking knowledge is by learning about the so-called archetypes.

Learn more about Vithanco’s implementation of CLDs here.

Impact Mapping Coming

I like visual thinking and whenever I come across a new method then I am make notes for future usage. One of these is the Impact Mapping, developed by Gojko Adzic. Impact Mapping is a nice quick way to identify the best approach to achieve a goal. 

The basic structure of impact mapping is very simple. You start with a goal, identify all the potential actors, analyse how they can help or hinder you, and then identify the solutions that might help or prevent your actors in order to achieve the goal. 

Impact Mapping in Vithanco

This is so simple and yet so powerful that it had to find it’s way into Vithanco. Right now it’s only available on my computer, but soon it will be released. 

In case you want to know more, here are two useful sites. The reference can be found here: A quick overview can be found at Magnus Dahlgren’s website:

A quick guide