A casual loop diagram (CLD) is an illustration of the "cause-effect-cause" relationship between the factors, which, over time, generate the dynamic behavior of the system being considered (Vision Works, 20003, p. 1). It consists of arrows linking variables in a way that shows how one variable affects another. For example:
Each arrow in a CLD is labeled with an "s" or an "o". "S" means that when the first variable changes, the second one changes in the similar direction. "O" means that the first variable causes a change in the opposite direction in the second variable.
The arrows in the CLD join to form loops, and each loop is labeled with an "R" or a "B". "R" means reinforcing; i.e., the casual relationship within the loop create exponential growth or collapse. ( For example, the more anxious you are at work, the more mistakes you make, and as you make more mistakes, you get even more anxious, and so on). "B" means balancing; i.e., the casual influences in the loop keep things in equilibrium. (For example, if you feel more stressed, you do more relaxation exercises, which bring your stress level down.)
CLDs can contain numerous different "B" and "R" loops, all joined together with arrows. When one draws these diagrams with colleagues or work team, one can get a display of viewpoints on what is happening in your organization. By this, then you can look for ways to make changes to improve things.