Iceberg Model

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The iceberg model is a model used in systems thinking to illustrate the various levels of abstraction to a situation or organization, from the observable events to underlying patterns that generate these, to the supporting structure and ultimately the mental models used by an organization. An iceberg is used as an analogy to represent the underlying structures generating perceived events and issues, as they are known to have only 10 percent of their total mass above the water while 90 percent of it is underwater. The expression “tip of the iceberg” is used to connote that what one can see is only a small part of a whole situation, i.e. there is much more below the surface and what it looks like may be surprising. Just like with an iceberg, a large percentage of what is going on in our world is hidden from view and the Iceberg Model tries to make this explicit by depicting it as a series of layers that sit beneath the everyday phenomena observed.