Our mission

Whether as a citizen or as a professional, thinking deeply about the consequences of our actions has never before been so important. Environmental degradation, increasing social and economic inequality, the rise of populist politics: the root of these problems is in many ways a mindset, one that sees the obvious rather than the complex, the short term rather than the long, and the parts rather than the whole. Extending our ability to think in systems will play a vital role in addressing our modern day challenges and shortcomings, and this is our mission at Loops Consulting.

In the contexts of education, business, and public policy, we offer practical and engaging tools to help people think more comprehensively about the extended consequences of different actions, whether that be the policies they vote for, the strategies they adopt, or the personal choices they make.

 
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OUR SERVICES

There are many tools that can help one to extend their ability to think in consequences, but we believe that few are as intuitive or effective as system dynamics. At Loops, we use both qualitative and quantitative system dynamics. Qualitative system dynamics involves drawing causal diagrams that show the different cause and effect relationships that are assumed to give rise to a certain issue or phenomenon being studied. These diagrams can sometimes provide sufficient insight for analysis and for deciding on a course of action. However, our minds are often unable to imagine how a complex system of interrelated variables will co-develop over time. This is why qualitative models often need to be quantified. When simulated, quantified system dynamics models act as aids to our limited cognitive capacities, allowing us to understand the dynamics of different systems better than we ever could through our minds alone. These models are built using specific software, which is similar to spreadsheet software, but with a more intuitive and less error-prone interface.

We apply system dynamics tools in several contexts:

 
 

EDUCATION

We create free online educational content that demonstrates how the teaching of system dynamics can significantly improve a student’s ability to recognise and deal with complexity. This is why we have collaborated with The Sustainability Laboratory to create two open access online educational courses, both of which can be accessed below:


Systems Thinking and Systems Modelling serves as an introduction to systems thinking, to qualitative system dynamics, and to the system dynamics methodology in general.

Sustainability: Definition & Five Core Principles serves as an introduction to quantitative system dynamics, using simulation models to help increase understanding of sustainability related topics and principles, as outlined by The Sustainability Laboratory. This course and the reason for its creation is also described in this paper, for which we were awarded the Barry Richmond award at the 2017 International System Dynamics Conference.

Our long term vision is that system dynamics will be integrated into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level education systems throughout the world. Most national education systems are currently lacking any significant curriculum for developing a student’s ability to think as a local, national, and global citizen. There is currently no methodology that is commonly taught in schools and that helps students to think about the long term impacts of different decisions, to think about issues from several perspectives, to predict the unintended consequences of different actions or strategies, or to design strategies that have high leverage.

We believe that system dynamics is an excellent tool for helping to resolve these shortcomings in our education systems. By encouraging students to think operationally and to be explicit about their assumptions, we believe that we can help create an education system that is better adapted to modern and future challenges, and we ask for your support in making it happen. Please feel free to share our existing educational courses with whoever you like, and feel free to reach out if you are interested in having a workshop on systems thinking, or if you have an idea for developing a new course about systems thinking or systems dynamics. For further reading on system dynamics in education, we suggest this article by Jay Forrester, the founder of system dynamics, who makes a clear case for why system dynamics should be an integral part of a 21st century education.

 
 

BUSINESS

Today’s world is more uncertain than ever. Businesses can decide to either shy away from this complexity, or to tackle it head on. We believe that system dynamics is an essential tool for tackling it head on.


System dynamics can serve as a way of analysing the long term effects of different strategies and fostering communication between departments or teams that are usually silo’d. This is particularly true with group model building exercises, in which different stakeholders gather together to create a system dynamics model of a shared issue. In this context, system dynamics modelling serves as both a analytical and communicative tool, allowing for different stakeholders to synthesise information and reach new insights.

System dynamics also serves as communication tools to external stakeholders, by allowing one to use models to demonstrate the logic of certain policies or strategies which might have some counterintuitive benefits.

For further reading about our work in this area, this paper demonstrates how system dynamics software is actually very similar to the traditional spreadsheet software used by most businesses. The article demonstrates, however, that system dynamics models can be more intuitive and less error-prone than spreadsheets.

Reach out to us here if you are interested in learning more about our business consulting services.

 
 

PUBLIC POLICY

We work with government and NGOs to garner insights through system dynamics analyses of complex social issues. Issues such as housing, healthcare, the energy system and national security are increasingly being recognised as in need of a systems perspective, and we believe that system dynamics is one of the most effective methods for delivering that perspective.


For further reading about our work in this area, please see the articles below:

This paper demonstrates through system dynamics modelling how investments in solar power can have synergestic effects on several sustainable development goals, in the context of Tanzania.

This paper uses a system dynamics model to analyse how the spread of privately owned rooftop solar panels might affect the price of electricity from the grid in the state of Arizona.

This paper analyses how the North Dakota oil boom placed significant pressure on social services and infrastructure in the area, following the high level of migration to the county after the discovery of the Parshall Oil Field in 2006.

This paper uses system dynamics to explore transition pathways to a bio-based economy in a Nordic context, looking at different policy options and their potential impacts in an integrated way.

This report to the Club of Rome presents four future scenarios for eight world regions based on the question 'Can the UN Sustainable Development Goals be reached within Planetary Boundaries?'

Reach out to us here if you are interested in learning more about our work on public policy.

 
 

OUR METHOD

System dynamics is a methodology that was developed in the 1950s by a man named Jay Forrester. He created it to help large corporations understand the long term implications and unintended consequences of different strategies and policies. After its original conception as a tool in the business world, system dynamics was later applied in the context of public policy, helping to reveal ways in which many government policies at the time were creating the very problems they tried to solve. System dynamics then had a major impact on the burgeoning sustainability movement with the publication of the Limits to Growth book in 1972, the findings of which were based on a system dynamics model and explained using system dynamics diagrams. Since then, countless governments, businesses, students and everyday citizens have used system dynamics as a way to understand how the world works and how their strategies, policies or actions are likely to play out over time. We invite you to do the same, adding a new language through which we can engage together with the complex challenges of our time.


 
 

OUR TEAM

Our multinational team consists of seven young professionals with diverse academic and professional backgrounds who share a passion for simulation modelling, strategic development and a sustainable, resilient planet. Our different backgrounds allow us to draw upon a multidisciplinary approach to the challenges being faced by our clients. It also makes it possible to put together the team facilitating the process based on the specific context and needs of the client. Click on the images below for a further introduction to our team members.

 

 
The systems-thinking lens allow us to reclaim our intuition about whole systems and hone our abilities to understand parts, see interconnections, ask “what-if” questions about possible future behaviors, and be creative and courageous about system redesign.”
— Donella H. Meadows, thinking in systems: a primer