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Teaching Systems Thinking in Spreadsheets. Mohammad Mojtahedzadeh Attune Group, Inc Deborah Upton Stonehill College. Modeling Spectrum:. Exposé. System Dynamics. Spreadsheet. Simple Manipulation. Complex Formulation. Build on Simple manipulation to arrive at Complex formulation.

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teaching systems thinking in spreadsheets

Teaching Systems Thinking in Spreadsheets

Mohammad Mojtahedzadeh

Attune Group, Inc

Deborah Upton

Stonehill College

modeling spectrum

Modeling Spectrum:

Exposé

System Dynamics

Spreadsheet

Simple Manipulation

Complex Formulation

Build on Simple manipulation to arrive at Complex formulation

modeling spectrum3
Exposé

Modeling Spectrum:

System Dynamics

Simple Manipulation

Complex Formulation

  • Hidden relationships
  • Visualization of structure

Spreadsheet

  • Local in time and space
  • Global in time and space
  • One way linkages
  • Circular Causality
  • Stock-and-Flow
  • Mathematical Nonlinearity
  • Data-Point Nonlinearity
the spreadsheet approach5
Hidden relationships

The Spreadsheet Approach:

Makes it difficult to

understand,

analyze and, communicate…

slide6
Exposé in MS Excel:

Tree Diagrams of Precedence

make the connections among the CELLS visible

the spreadsheet approach7
Local in Time and Space

The Spreadsheet Approach:

Working with numbers (not equations)

One relationship, one time period

No clear model boundaries

…. makes it easy to master!

…. but inadequate for modeling complexity!

the spreadsheet approach8
Local in Time and Space

The Spreadsheet Approach:

Purchases (Jan)

Savings (Jan)

1000 – 95.26 = ?

savings t savings t 1 purchases
From cell reference formulas to equations
  • Translate cell reference formulas to equations:

February

$1,000

January

$95.26

Savings (t) = Savings (t - 1) - Purchases

  • Reconstruct the structure
slide10
Exposé in MS Excel:

Tree Diagrams of Causal Drivers

make the connections among the VARIABLES visible

slide11
Exposé in MS Excel

Two distinguished tree diagrams

Tree Diagrams of Precedence

Tree Diagrams of Causal Drivers

the value proposition
Can we build on what people know?

The Value Proposition:

Global

(interconnected)

System Dynamics

Complex Issues

Spreadsheet

Local

(isolated)

Simple Issues

Short term

Long term

the value proposition13
From Numbers to Equations and back again

The Value Proposition:

Exposé allows the user to interact with Numbers and Equations any time in the process of modeling

Sometimes it might be easier to start with Numbers and then move to Equations

the spreadsheet approach16
One way linkages:

The Spreadsheet Approach:

Lack of focus on

integration point and

feedback processes

makes spreadsheets inadequate to model dynamic systems

slide17
Exposé in MS Excel

Make integration points visible

Launch Exposé with Examples from the book

slide18
Exposé in MS Excel

Circular Causality

Identify and work with feedback processes

Launch Exposé with Examples from the book

slide19
Exposé in MS Excel

Allows data-point non-linearity

Launch Exposé with the MARKET GROWTH MODEL

slide20
Exposé in MS Excel

Do “what if” analysis more often

Launch Exposé perhaps with Market growth model

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