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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book for learning about system dynamics, 22 Sept. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager's Guide to Applying Systems Thinking (Paperback)
If you want to learn how to draw causal loop diagrams and use them in your work, this is the book for you.
The book is extremely comprehensive, yet easy to read and written in a style that makes you feel like the author is personally teaching you about system dynamics in a one-to-one lesson.
If you are brand new to systems dynamics, this book will take you from your first steps right up to feeling confident in drawing causal loop diagrams, and even set you on the road to using modelling software to simulate your diagrams.
If you are already familiar with systems dynamics but want to work on your causal loop diagramming skills, this book is also ideal. It works through example after example, all drawn from the real world, with some very topical examples for the UK (e.g. the railways system).
The book is simultaneously simple and profound. I read it in just a few days, and enjoyed the experience as well as learned a lot from it.
All in all, I would say that this is the best book on the market for learning about causal loops and system dynamics.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential guide to using qualitative systems thinking, 2 July 2010
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager's Guide to Applying Systems Thinking (Paperback)
Dennis Sherwood has provided an excellent and sufficiently detailed guide to using causal loop diagrams as a tool of systems thinking. The book starts off with briefly introducing some systems thinking strands and main proponents and then delves into how one can construct and use causal loop diagrams (CLDs) to portray socio-economic systems.

What I found particularly useful about the book is that the topic is given sufficient attention - doing damage by making bad, or poorly thought out CLDs is relatively easy and that is what tends to happen, when the only contact one has with the methodology comes courtesy of a brief seminar or a brief skimming through Senge's The Fifth Discipline (where causal loops are used and introduced, but which often leads to readers trying to fit the world into the few archetypes presented).

The book follows specific examples and works through them, with diagrams being developed progressively, with the associated explanations provided in the text. This also allows a reader, who is already relatively familiar with the concept, to use the diagrams on their own to progress through sections they feel comfortable with.

In addition to devoting most effort to causal loop diagramming, the author also introduces System Dynamics modelling in the later chapters. For this field the book is far from comprehensive but it shows an interested reader what a possible next step is, something to probably be followed by Sterman's Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World with CD-ROM. There is also a chapter, where building blocks of how to introduce creative problem solving are discussed and although excellent, it too is more of an introduction, as it is a related area.

The writing style is also pleasant - I imagine pretty much every reader should find it easy to follow. In essence, Sherwood does a good job of operationalising the concept of organisational linkages (and going beyond that) presented by Goodman in Missing Organizational Linkages: Tools for Cross-Level Research (Foundations for Organizational Science) and is an excellent addition to any systems thinking / theory library.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Knowledge!, 1 Mar. 2004
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager's Guide to Applying Systems Thinking (Paperback)
This is an extraordinary, in the sense of out-of-the-ordinary, book. Flipping through it, you see page after page of loops and curves. At first, you might think it is a guide to drawing. And in a sense, it is. Most of the book explains how to use depictions of various types of loops to represent different kinds of business problems. Such problems never occur in isolation, because every business is a system, and everything that happens in a business has causes and effects that reach into other areas of the business and into the outside world. Author Dennis Sherwood is not peddling a simple notion, but rather is explaining “systems thinking,” a method of analyzing systems and processes. We unexpectedly found this quite entertaining, written with a light touch and bound to give almost any manager some new, valuable insights. On the down side, the author probably could have delivered his core message more succinctly, and after a while his insistence on demonstrating and categorizing the species and genera of loops begins to seem, well, a bit loopy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for budding system thinkers, 7 May 2014
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This review is from: Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager's Guide to Applying Systems Thinking (Paperback)
This has to be in contention for my book of the year for 2014 so far (out of 45 so far). This book introduces system thinking in a very light manner, then seamlessly drifts causal loops into the equation and before you are finished you are well on your way to understanding system dynamics.

Maybe this book appealed to my learning style (although I do not thinks so) or maybe the writing style was just right for me (maybe) or maybe it was right time, who knows, but I have read this book 3 times in as many weekends, drew complex causal loops in front of clients for the first time in my life without any concern and feel my understanding of systems thinking has grown 300%.

it may not be for everybody but anybody who has an interest in discovering more about systems thinking should make this book their starting point
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide to Systems Thinking, 15 Oct. 2006
By 
DA Vachell "DavidV" (Maidenhead, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager's Guide to Applying Systems Thinking (Paperback)
Dennis distills the challenge of understanding systems thinking and causal loop diagramming into the basics in a highly easy to access way. This is an excellent introduction for the beginner as well as a thought provoking inspiration for anyone using CLDs and needing to explain their use to a audience unused to them.
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