Beyond Connecting the Dots Q&A

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The following Q&A is being developed as we field questions from the November 7, 2013 release of Beyond Connecting the Dots. If you have additional questions please send Gene an email at



As of 13.12.08 we're still attempting to resolve the situation with Apple to offer an App for the iPad/iPhone. As the date for resolution of this situation is presently in-determinant we've created an option to purchase access to a web version of the Beyond Connecting the Dots. Purchasing the web version allows one to read it on any device with a standard web browser. The web version isn't downloaded so a connection to the network is required to interact with the content. We'll post updates as things continue to develop.

In Jan 2014 we gave up on the apps for iPad, Kindle, and Android because of the hassle of managing arrangements with Apple, Amazon and Google. The next version of Insight Maker, v5, maybe in the June time frame will improve the interface for working on smaller portable screens.

Creating BCtD

The question has been asked repeatedly how BCtD was created. Click the Step Forward button in the lower right to unfold the following model..

You can mouse over each item at the end and click the little "i" in the upper right of the item to read a description of the individual components.

Download Security/Mac

A number of people have had their computer security complain when they tried to install the Mac version of the App. It's not that there's a problem with the App, it's just that we're not a registered developer. Scott dug up some instructions on changing the settings for installation.

IE 11/Windows 7

We have had one report of BCtD not paging correctly in IE 11 on a Windows 7 system. If you experience this problem please let us know.

iPad Web Problems

  • Safari on iPad 3. There have been several reports that this doesn't work well or at all in some instances. r 2. Scott is looking into this. 13.12.09
  • iPad Air. Safari seems to crash here also though the report is that Google Chrome works OK.
  • Safari on the original iPad also seems to be a problem.
  • Google Chrome on iPad seems to be fine.

iPad Retina Slider Problem

  • I'm running iOS7 on an iPad Retina and can't get sliders to work in Chrome (or several other browsers).
    • Some of the UI elements can be difficult to use with a touch device. This will improve greatly when we upgrade to the next version of our UI toolkit ExtJS. They have promised us a test version of the next version in March.

Modeling on a Touch Device

The key basics to using IM for modeling on a touch device are:

Creating New Primitives

Tap and hold your finger on a blank area of the canvas. A menu will appear after a few seconds allowing you to select the type of the primitive you want to create.

Creating Connections

Tap on a primitive to select it. When selected, a Blue arrow will appear to the right of the primitive. Tap and drag this arrow to the primitive you want the first primitive to connect to.

Editing Equations

Tap and hold a primitive. After a few seconds, the equation entry dialogue will open (though it's honestly a bit of a pain to use at the moment; entering text of the tablet is really a sub-optimal experience.


It seems that a paragraph is missing from the Introduction covering basic navigation in the initial version. This was replaced in the December 7, 2013 version of BCtD.

  • Page Forward. Click anywhere to the right of the center of the page.
  • Page Back. Click anywhere to the left of the center of the page.
  • Table of Contents. Click on the title in the upper left of the window and a Table of Contents will be displayed. You can scroll through the Table of Contents and clicking an entry will take you to that location.
  • Location Bar. If you click the section title in the lower left of the window a relative location slider will be displayed. You can click on the ball and move it to the right or left to change your location in the content.
  • Text Size. Clicking the AA in the upper right will toggle the size of the size of the text.
  • Video. The following video also covers this navigation.

Other Versions

On Nov 7the, 2013 we released the Windows and Mac Apps. Due to the difficulties and limited marked the iPad, iPhone, Kindle and Android versions never materialized.

Network Connection & Images

You can read the content and interact with the models without being connected to a network. That said, there are a few models that have images laid atop some of the elements and these images are pulled from the network. If you're not connected you can still work with the model, the objects show a label and the fact that the image is missing.


Julio Graham

Thanks for the support and a really great product. I've been a systems thinking practitioner for about 11 years now and this is the first learning aid I can use to show clients what the hell I'm talking about :-)

Alexander Laszlo

The dynamics of modern lifeways evince accelerated rates of change, thrusting contemporary societies past critical thresholds of stability and engulfing individuals in confusing blurs of behavioral choice. While the conceptual tools of the systems sciences offer powerful resources for sense making and action taking in times such as these, they are often out of reach of anyone but systems experts. Making these tools accessible to those who could most benefit from them should be top priority among action oriented systems thinkers of today for tomorrow. Fortunately, Beyond Connecting the Dots addresses this challenge magnificently. This brilliant new interactive platform grows and complexifies with you as your needs for understanding, interpreting and engaging with the dynamics of complex adaptive systems evolves. It is a powerful, practical, accessible and applicable systems tool that allows anyone to work with systems of all types through a simple, clear and cogent interface. Beyond Connecting the Dots is equally relevant to the politician, the academic, the social scientist, engineer, architect, physicist, and anyone looking for a useful and user-friendly tool for engaging constructively and productively with complex adaptive systems.

Alexander Laszlo, International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) President, 2012-2013

Zsolt Nyiri

The book invites you to read it and interactively experiment with the examples. A fine way to make the learner turn to the next page: 'explain-think-and-experience'. Your approach popularises ST/SD and makes it accessible for people outside the academic community. This book is a wonderful gift to the learner community!

Zsolt Nyiri, Chairman, ISCM Foundation

Ken Shepard

Our senior consultants are frequently challenged in communicating sophisticated systems concepts to time-and-attention constrained corporate general managers. The Global Organization Design Society recommends Gene Bellinger’s and Scott Fortmann-Roe's Beyond Connecting the Dots, and have decided to use Insight Maker with its powerful story telling ability to keynote and moderate our next world conference, Designing the Data Driven Organization in New York City, July, 2014.

Ken Shepard, President, The Global Organization Design Society

Lees Stuntz

Beyond Connecting the Dots is a cutting-edge product that utilizes the power of current technology to create an active learning environment for the critical thinking skills of system dynamics and systems thinking. The ability to play with models and even do some modeling yourself as you experience system dynamics concepts is fun, exciting and a powerful way to learn. This interactive environment taps into multiple learning modalities, making it an effective tool for a diverse cross-section of the population.

Lees Stuntz, Executive Director of the Creative Learning Exchange, "Developing Systems Citizens through the use of System Dynamics and Systems Thinking in K-12 Education"

Kim Warren

Systems thinking is powerful, and important for helping us tackle the biggest challenges in our modern world. But it's tricky! With *Beyond Connecting the Dots*, Gene and Scott have given us an engaging, fun-to-use and comprehensive tool to bring the idea to life for all kinds of folk. The more people understand about the systems we (and our leaders!) struggle to deal with, the more chance we have to make the world a better place.

Kim Warren, International System Dynamics Society President, 2013 and Originator of Strategy Dynamics.


The interactive capability is completely lost in a printed version which is why we, along with a large number of our sponsors, decided to eliminate the .pdf/book version of the content months before release. As such, there is no way to print content, though you can copy and paste pieces of the content to other places. I copied a major portion of the Introduction, with graphics, and pasted it into a Google Docs document and it seems to work fine.

Right-Click on Mac

In the create a model segments the direction is to Right-Click, which is a Windows direction. The equivalent for a Mac is Control+Click.

There has been one report of Control+Click not working on Mac OS X 10.6.8 though we're not in a position to test that. The person has now reported that they use a mouse and right-click it works and the see a drop down menu.


  • Bookmark. A bookmark function would be very helpful - standard e-reader functionality
  • Header/Footer. Using the Mac version (I am now using Mountain Lion OS 10.7.5), I have to say that I think that there is not enough space between the content and the header and footer of each page. Would it be possible to create some kind of border around the content?
  • Location ID. Some location ID is also missing, does not to have to be a page number, can simply be identified by a number as in the case of kindle -> it would be nice to scroll back and forth to this "location"
  • Models List. Should have a list of all the models in the book (identified by keyword) plus a link to the online model library or repository - because I think that this is one of the most exciting aspects of the project - the ability to share and exchange ideas with experts and laypeople around the world about complex issues using different models - which can be designed and extended collaboratively
  • Search. Tthe search functionality is missing (this is usually part of an e-reader functionality and can be very useful, I was looking for it today ;-); it would be nice to look for
  • Note. A note function would also be very useful - standard e-reader functionality

Table of Contents

There isn't anywhere in the book where you can extract a complete Table of Content so thanks to Mukom Akong T. here's a copy of the Table of Content

I. Web of Wonder

  • Experiencing the Web
  • Creating the Future
  • Patterns in the Web
  • Learning
  • A Basis for Flawed Learning
  • Simulation
  • New Patterns - A Better Way
  • Three Structures
  • Three Types of Models
  • Construction Process
  • The Essence of AND?
  • Modeling Guidelines
  • Summary

II. Developing Understanding

  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  • Walking to Grandma's
  • Work Completion
  • Filling a Swimming Pool
  • Rabbit Population
  • Savings Account
  • Why Aren't We All Rich?
  • Romeo & Juliet
  • Climate Stabilization Task
  • Maintaining Personnel Resources
  • The Fix Overshoots the Goal
  • Infinite Drinkers
  • Frequently Recurring Structures
  • Summary

III. Applied Understanding

  • Systemic Strategy
  • Victims of the System or Systems of the Victim
  • Managing Time in Time Management
  • Are There Limits?
  • Productivity Challenge
  • Restaurant Covers
  • Control Theory
  • Increasing Indebtedness to Banks
  • Sustainable Capitalism
  • Swamping Insights
  • To Degree or Not
  • The Rain Barrel
  • New Learning Inhibited
  • Innovation Diffusion
  • Hospital Fixes that Fail
  • World2 Model
  • Conclusion

IV. Models and Truth

  • Prediction, Inference and Narrative
  • The Strange Case of Inference
  • Predictive versus Narrative Modelling
  • Summary

V. Building Confidence in Models

  • Model Design
  • Model Implementation
  • Model Results
  • Confidence and Philosophy

VI. The Process of Modeling

  • Why Model?
  • Model Project Management
  • Model Boundaries
  • From Mental Models to Simulation Models
  • Wrapping it Up

VII. The Mathematics of Modeling

  • Differential Equations and System Dynamics
  • Solving Differential Equations

VIII. Equilibrium and Stability Analysis

  • Equilibrium Points
  • The Phase Plane
  • Stability Analysis
  • Analytical vs Numerical Analysis
  • Summary

IX. Optimizations and Complexity

  • Assessing Model Accuracy
  • Calibrating the Model
  • Goodness of Fit
  • Multi-Objective Optimisations
  • Finding the Best Fit
  • The Cost of Complexity

X. Modeling with Agents

  • The State Transition diagram
  • Creating Agents
  • Working with Agents
  • Agent Geography
  • Multiline Equations
  • Integrating SD and ABM
  • Concluding Thoughts

XI. Going Global

  • The Web in a Nutshell
  • Creating a Webpage for Engagement
  • Flight Simulators and Serious Games
  • Additional Tips

Website Theme

The Beyond Connecting the Dots website template is called Shoelace.

Window Size Positioning in Mac/Win Apps

This will be added in the next update. Date TBD.

Frequently Recurring Structures Model Problem

The Frequently Recurring Structures Model at the end of Chapter 2 indicates that the individual elements link to models and videos about the individual archetypes in something referred to as SysNet. SysNet is an environment we were building in a piece of software called TheBrain. When we attempted to migrate from v7 to v8 of the software our system crashed and we lost a ton of work. As such we stopped using TheBrain and have since implemented Archetypes in Kumu, though it links to Insight Maker models in the various nodes. Though even they are being reworked.

F.Y.I. If we were to write Beyond Connecting the Dots today it would look more like a Kumu Map than Beyond Connecting the Dots.

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