The simcision method is based on the learning and problem-solving approach of systems thinking.

Systems thinking

The basis of simcision is the systems thinking method. This methods accommodates the complexity of an issue, reconciles various perspectives, and takes into account reciprocal effects between the system elements.

Understanding complex systems

In systems thinking, interdependency networks are created to serve as the basis for simulations. In turn, simulations help you to better understand the dynamics of a system, i.e. the behavior of the system over time. Via intervention in a system, which generally only takes place at one point of the system, other points in the system are also addressed via a network of relationships. Using the systems thinking methods therefore allows unexpected dependencies to be uncovered.

Making complex systems tangible

A system merely describes one slice of reality. Various observers see different slices of reality and create various different mental models in their minds via abstraction, diversity of perspectives, and pattern recognition. The goal of communication, leadership, or education is to reconcile the various mental models into a single one. This is where interdependency networks play a central role. By visualizing the relationships, mental models can be communicated, presented, and simulated in a comprehensible manner. This creates the basis for goal-oriented, participative decision-making.

8 steps to focused decision-making

simcision is a systemic method for simulation-based decision-making in complex environments. In strategic decision-making, its eight steps reliably guide decision-makers from defining the goals, to interdependency relationships, and subsequently to the assessment of alternative courses of action. This allows sustainable solutions to be developed in the team.

In a complex world, everything is mutually related. In order to develop the system, the first step is to define which slice of reality is to be examined. simcision uses the “main question” as a criterion for differentiation. This jointly formulated main goal should be verifiable. Subsequently, as part of the stakeholder analysis, all groups of persons which share an interest in the issue are determined. Finally, the goal elements are formulated to describe the goal system.

  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Main question
  • Goals as system elements

In order to be able to assess the overall performance of the system being observed, the individual goal elements must be weighted according to their effects and significance. Subsequently, the current state of the individual goal elements is described and assessed using indicators that are measurable or assessable to the greatest extent possible. This forms the basis (starting values) for the later assessment of alternative courses of action.

  • Weighting of the goal elements
  • Description of indicators
  • Assessed current state

In an interdependency network, the direct relationships between the elements are visualized as cause-effect relationships. The interdependency network constitutes the common mental model for all involved parties. It serves to enable a common understanding and can be used as a medium for communication. The interdependency network forms the basis for all other observations. To create the interdependency network, all relevant relations are identified and linked with a dependency arrow if the state change of one element leads to a significant state change in another element.

  • Interdependency network for direct dependencies
  • Transparency of indirect dependencies
  • Initial estimation of relationship strength

The state change of a network element is forwarded as a change impulse via the relationship arrow. All relationship arrows affect the dynamic as a whole, i.e. the change in the system over time. For each defined relationship, the maximum influence of the source element on the goal element is estimated, and where necessary described using predefined characteristic curve lines. Furthermore, in each case, any existing time delays of the effect are also entered. A number of elements change their state not only via stimuli from other elements, but also independently over time. In this case, the self-driven dynamic of the element will need to be estimated and formulated. For a well-founded analysis and assessment of the relationships, a continuous plausibility check on entire effect chains and/or feedback loops is to be conducted.

  • Strength of relations
  • Time delays
  • Self-driven dynamics

A wide variety of resources can be linked to the system being observed. This may include budget, personnel capacity, materials, but also trust, loyalty, or obligation. Resources can be influenced by system elements in two ways. In the first case, the resource is increased or consumed depending on the state of the system element; in the second case, only in the event of a change in the system element. Resources can also be consumed using events and actions in order to influence the system. The unit and starting value of the resource is first defined. In the next step, the dependencies of the goal elements are described and recorded quantitatively.

  • Description of the resource
  • Unit and quantity
  • Dependencies of the goal elements

Events affect the system. They change the state of the system elements and possibly also the quantity of available resources. Events can be exogenous or endogenous; i.e. they either act on the system from the outside, or are brought about by changes in system elements. Triggers may include time, fortuity, the element state, or past actions. Furthermore, an event can also result in subsequent events. It is therefore possible to qualitatively, and to some extent quantitatively, map all dynamics of a system using complex event cascades.

  • Effects on the system elements and resources
  • Triggers for the occurrence of the events
  • Definition of subsequent events

Actions are targeted system interventions from various stakeholders or interest groups. Apart from the effects (costs) on the previously defined resources, the prerequisites for the use of the action must first be described. Subsequently, the effects on the individual system elements are defined and where applicable, linked to the events triggered by the action. In order to later evaluate the alternatives, it is recommended to assign actions to the most important stakeholders and to summarize all events.

  • Description of actions
  • Costs and effects of actions
  • Compiling evaluation scenarios

The last step involves a simulation-based comparison of various alternative courses of action or scenarios, consisting of a bundle of events and actions. First of all, the observed scenarios are once again reviewed, and where necessary, the starting values of the system elements adjusted. Each scenario is then simulated. This can take place step-by-step, in that a suitable action is used to react to the change in the system at each time interval. Alternatively, a plan of various actions for the entire observation period can be compiled and simulated. The results of the individual simulations can subsequently be represented and analyzed comparatively. In addition to the overall performance of the system and the consumption of resources, both the state of the individual goal elements as well as their change over time can be taken into account for deriving a decision.

  • Simulation of scenarios
  • Comparative evaluation of scenarios
  • Derivation of a decision

Simulation games

Added value of simulation games

Simulation games are interactive and innovative learning methods which introduce participants to the content in a hands-on fashion, thereby positively influencing learning behavior by increasing enthusiasm and motivation. Using simulation games, complex strategies or processes can be directly experienced, thereby imparting a better understanding of goals, workflows, and roles, but also of possible goal conflicts or difficulties.

Simulation games in simcision

simcision simulation models can be used as the basis for individual simulation games. Here, the interdependency network and the scenarios created, consisting of events and actions, are protected against change. The resulting closed simulation model is usually enriched with additional information and, in the form of a simulation game, provided to a larger circle of persons to interact with. simcision simulation games allow a better understanding of systems to be acquired and for the identification of suitable alternative courses of action.