Friday, 30 May 2008

Europe fuel protests spread wider

Southbeach notation is effective at capturing the conflicts and dilemmas within global or national issues in a clear and unambiguous way.

In this case, the coupled effects of a growing demand for oil, particularly in emerging economies, at a time when future supply is uncertain, is leading to rising fuel prices. This is leading to protests by citizens who depend on burning fuel oil for their liveihoods. As a result, strikes across Europe are occuring and subsidies are being asked for.

Governments could implement subsidies, and/or reduce high tax levies on fuel, but they don't want to. It would limit their tax incomes, and, would counteract the green agenda. Rising fuel prices are good in the eyes of green activists. Less fuel burnt means less global warming. Less travel means less globalization and less damage to the environment. By contrast, putting in place subsidies or lower taxes for fuel would not only send out a bad signal, it would further increase travel and degrade the planet further. Governments like taxes to be high, so they can spend more money pleasing other interest groups and voters. So they like high fuel prices and can claim they are green at the same time. BBC news

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Boys with knives

This model explores the causes of the change in culture, typified by today's news in UK of more teenage stabbings. "The shooting of 17-year-old Sharmaake Hassan in Camden, north London, brings the number of teenagers killed in the capital this year to 15" Source: BBC news
Similar things are happening in other parts of the UK and in other European cities.

Note how Southbeach can be used to posit questions about effects crossing perspectives, in this case, our view of the 1950s and today.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Antartica pollution and exploitation

The situation illustrated shows the effects of increased shipping in the Antarctic.

The model shows how the combined effects of fishing, the exploitation and hunt for resources, tourism and research exploration are contributing to an increase in shipping in the area. Overcrowding is leading to accidents. The ships traveling these distances have supply needs, and this brings more ships (feedback loop).

The ships store heavy fuel oils and this poses a risk. The oil and other cargo can be released during accidents – the frequency of which is increasing as the number of ships rises. Ships also consume the fuel, a process which releases both sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide. This, coupled to the potential accidents, is releasing increased pollutants in the Antarctic.

The ships have other polluting effects. Notably, they create sewage and grey water waste, and also carry alien species into the region from their points of origin.

Over fishing of the region is another major negative factor. It arises from multiple causes – whaling, the pet industry and the pharmaceutical industry etc. This is driving a new form of fishing, an aggressive vacuuming of krill from the sea. This consumption of krill and shrimp is itself a danger because other fish depend on krill in the food chain. Birds and other wildlife in turn depend on the fish.

As a result of this situation, it has therefore been proposed that the following goals are pursued. The goals are indicated in the model:

  • To give to the Antarctic a “world park status”. This would counteract both the number of ships visiting the area and limit fishing by humans.
  • To create a register of Antarctic vessels. This record would be required in order to enforce any treaty, such as the potential introduction of requirement and regulation governing the strengthening of ship’s hulls. These measures would counteract the impact of accidents when they occur, since there would be less chance of the release of oils and other pollutants carried onboard the ships.

The model shows that there is a useful side effect of accidents, which is to raise public awareness, leading to a strengthening of lobby groups which could bring the necessary regulations into being. Additionally, tourism brings more ships to the region, but also helps to educate and raise awareness.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Plantstones store carbon

This odd looking model was developed based on an example in New Scientist magazine, 5th Jan 2008 "While Others Lock Carbon Away for Years". What the model says is that new strains of wheat and other crops can create a strong amplifying effect on the ability of the plant to create plantstones. They are therefore a potentially important solution to countering CO2 omissions.

Plantstones are created by the plant growing and consuming minerals. Plantstones remain in the soil even after the plant decays. Thus, carbon can be stored in the plant (when it is alive) and afterwards (when it is dead) by virtue of the plantstones it leaves behind. Get this right, and the counteracting effect on greenhouse gases is strong.

Plantstones form as microscopic grains of silican in plant leaves, particularly in grass-based pastures and crops such as sugar cane and wheat. This is refered to as phytolith occluded carbon

Global warming tipping point

A model drawn from an article: NASA: Danger Point Closer Than Thought From Warming

Risk workshop

(Model by Mark Burnett)
Used during a risk workshop.

Idea to value

(Model by Mark Burnett)
It shows some interesting dynamics in project work. Both good projects and failing project both create adverse side effects for an organization. These counteract the value the projects can create. Change is hard. People, and the time and resources they consume to create ideas to improve projects (usually insufficiently), creates costs.

Authority and power

(Model by Mark Burnett)
The model illustrates the factors at play in an organization between those in positions of authority (who may or may not have power) and those in power or who use or abuse power.

Resolving a contradiction

This model illustrates a contradiction or opposition. A and B are in conflict somehow. For the purposes of this model it does not matter why, or what A or B are. The model shows the ability of Southbeach, not only to model concreate situations (as most of the examples in this blog) but also, abstract solution patterns. In this case, the dotted boxes (meaning 'potential'), show where solutions or compromises can be made. Note how the opposition itself can only be solved using a separation principle. That is part of what TRIZ teaches us. Note also that the opposition itself has a root cause - the contradiction.


(Model/perspective by Mark Burnett)
The model illustrates the tension between a company's balance sheet and the activities and costs associated with necessary innovation. It shows how cost containment counteracts the activities that lead to innovation, but which are necessary to create the strategies and processes that drive market share and profit.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Quality vs. innovation and its consequences

Here, an idea is decomposed into its elements. Corporate culture is in tension with customer value. The culture is driving a focus on quality (cost, reliability, etc.), with negative impacts on innovation. The innovation is necessary to counteract further commoditization of the business.

Increasing human population and industrial activity

The vicious circle between ever increasing human population and escalating human industrial activity - combined - is leading to destruction of the environment, and resource depletion (overloaded), with therefore unpredictable implications for humanity and other life forms.

Biomethanol, biodiesel, CO2

Bio-methanol is a type of methonol, which can be used for transportation applications and applications where ethanol is required. It's production process consumes glycerine by-products of bio-diesel production. The process of producing bio-methanol produces less CO2 than the production of bio-diesel.


This model says: Adding someone new to a team produces the change needed to overcome insufficient collaboration between other team members. At the same time, a new policy is introduced, its effect being to make it harder to build internal collaborations between different business units – silos are created removing valuable possible collaborations.

Here are other similar examples:

  • A team is working well, but a new manager with different goals has a negative impact on processes that continue to need to work well
  • A knowledge management system creates more and more examples of reuse occurring across the company
  • A team is working together well – but the effect of the collaboration (the output) is consumed by an organizational structure and value set that does not recognize the value of innovation that occurs outside of top down planned projects
  • A marketing program for innovation success stories stores the effects of innovation in a way that creates momentum for further investment in the innovation program

Customer service dents brand

Qualities are agents which represent attributes of the system or of other agents, for example the brand ‘quality’ of a product. Agents often exhibit qualities. For example, the customer service process is regarded as too slow, inflexible or impersonal.

The model says that the company’s over focus on brand, to the exclusion of customer service, poses risks to the relationship with the customer. The slow and impersonal service clashes strongly with the necessary goal of a connection with the customer.

Business tensions - revenue, margin

(Model by Mark Burnett)
Money creates the tension of either spending more or spending less. Companies need to spend more on marketing, to drive revenue, to create a successful business. Companies also need to spend less, to contain costs, to drive margin, to create a successful business. There are tensions throughout, and both revenue AND margin, is required for a successful business.

Sulphate sunshield dangers

planetary engineering projects to cool the planet could backfire quite spectacularly. New research shows that a "sulphate sunshade" would punch huge holes through the ozone layer above the Arctic. To make matters worse, it would also delay the full recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole by up to 70 years.

The model is based on the work of Simone Tilmes of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, US. Tilmes used computer models to see how a sulphate sunshade (potential + harmful) would affect the ozone layer (useful), which protects us from harmful UV rays. She says it could have "a drastic impact".

Sulphate particles catalyse the breakdown of ozone molecules by chlorine atoms. Western economies have almost entirely stopped using chlorine-based coolants called CFCs, thanks to the Montreal Protocol. However, such substances are increasingly being used in Asia and the atmosphere is still full of CFCs emitted during the 20th century.

To add to our understanding of the situation illustrated in the diagram, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, found that if a sulphate sunshield were deployed and then removed - for instance because of a change in governments - the effects of global warming after the removal would be far worse than before the sunshield.

The model illustrates the salient features of the integrated situation. For example:

  • The impact of drought and the impact on global warming of attempts to remove the sunshield are marked with strong effects.
  • A special symbol is used to signify that the ozone layer ‘consumes’ UV rays.
  • The breakdown of ozone molecules has an ‘overloaded’ destructive effect on the ozone layer (thinning).

This process of elaboration aids understanding and provokes creative thinking. For any given model, the reader can then ask questions to improve understanding, or improve the situation directly. For example:

  • Is there another way to create a sunshield? (Avoiding harmful sulphates)
  • Exactly how does catalysis breakdown the ozone molecules?
  • Why is sulphate needed? Can we take sulphate out of the system? Etc.