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Strategic Modelling and Business Dynamics: A feedback systems approach, + Website, 2nd Edition by John D. W. Morecroft

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CHAPTER 4 World of Showers

In Chapter 2, a hot water shower was introduced as an example of a dynamically complex system involving balancing loop feedback. The shower-taker tries to align water temperature with a goal or ‘desired temperature’ by regulating the flow of hot water. This seemingly straightforward goal-seeking task is not always easy to achieve and often results in repeated overshoot and undershoot of water temperature and self-inflicted discomfort. World of Showers is a gaming simulator that enables players to take the role of a shower-taker – without getting wet. You enter an imaginary shower and adjust the water temperature to the desired level by adjusting the hot water supply. The mix of hot and cold water is controlled by a tap setting – just like a normal shower. The simulator traces the movement of temperature over time and displays the results of your efforts to control the system. The simulator illustrates the coordination problem at the heart of balancing loop dynamics and even enables players to redesign the shower system to improve performance and personal comfort. A shower, with its local goal and adjustment process, is a metaphor for goal-seeking behaviour in organisations and it illustrates dynamic complexity. It provides insight into the challenges of managing performance in self-regulating systems where obvious interventions often produce ...

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