Southbeach Modeller

Improve Everything Always


Click on a section heading for answers.

How is Southbeach different to mind map software?

Mind mapping tools arrange ideas or 'thoughts' in a hierarchy, outwards from a central concept. A Southbeach model can be arranged to look like a mind map, but the software is not limited to this. Southbeach models are graphs, with connecting effects between any two elements. In this sense, a Southbeach model is more similar to a concept map than it is to a mind map.

Mind maps use colour to distinguish different kinds of ideas, but there is no commonly agreed convention. By contrast, Southbeach Modeller implements the Southbeach Notation. There are consistent conventions for useful and harmful elements, goals and risks, actors, issues, actions, choices, knowledge, insufficiency and many others. This allows Southbeach to automatically generate ideas from any model.

Many of our customers use both mind mapping software and Southbeach. They are all complementary to a large degree. Southbeach is unique in that it includes an idea generation engine.

How are Southbeach models different to concept maps?

There are many different concept mapping tools on the market, with little in common between them. By contrast, Southbeach uses consistent visual conventions. For example, a useful element is always green, signifying something you want more of. A harmful element (red) is something you want less of. By understanding the increasing and decreasing influences such elements of a model, Southbeach can generate ideas, directions and insights from any model. The output generated points to needed improvements in a design, system or situation.

Why do you claim that Southbeach Modeller is unique?

Southbeach Modeller is the first implementation of Southbeach Notation. The software contains an embedded creativity (rules) engine. Users can extend the software by writing their own rule sets. Rules are written in a simple domain-independent language called MyCreativity. Any rule set can be applied to any model.

As users click around a model, information from the model is combined with the user-supplied rules (sentences, paragraphs or even entire reports), generating new ideas, new content. Patterns of objects and attribute tags in the model match patterns in the rules. By combining model content and user supplied creative knowledge, Southbeach can be 'programmed' to support many creative or analytical methods.

Can I use Southbeach to model business processes?

Southbeach is not a business process modelling tool, but it is used by many process change specialists. The reason is that Southbeach is independent of what is being modelled. Southbeach can model processes, systems, architectures, organizational, even abstract ideas. Process designers use Southbeach to model business processes in ways that suggest improvements.

Southbeach models are called 'situational' models. A 'situtation' is something that needs to be improved, solved or changed. It can be a process, a system, an organization, or just a single idea.

Could I get by using a drawing package such as Visio?

There are many excellent drawing packages on the market. These rich tools are oriented to the final production of a business or engineering diagram, with control over style at every level. By contrast, Southbeach is oriented towards analysis, working quickly, alone or in a workshop. It focusses only on modelling, problem solving, innovation and idea generation.

You could try to draw Southbeach models using a tool like Visio, but it would take time. You could set up a palette of Visio objects, red and green boxes, other shapes, etc., and you could draw in arrows between them. It would, however, be hard to draw all the features of Southbeach in this way. And once drawn, how easy would it be to modify the model, for example, to change a goal to a risk, to change an increasing effect to a decreasing effect? Would those changes automatically ripple through your analysis? No.

Drawing tools are not really designed for workshops. Southbeach has been designed for fast and effective modelling in group and workshop settings. We have benchmarked Southbeach against typical drawing tools. It is typically 10 to 30 times faster to create a model in Southbeach than in a package such as Visio. The notation is built in, and ready to go. Southbeach is a tool for active consulting with colleagues or clients. It models situations quickly and with fluidity. It directly manipulates the Southbeach objects, their meaning and connections. It allows for the models to be viewed and manipulated as lists as well as graphically. The models can be easily navigated.

Perhaps the most important reason for using Southbeach over a drawing package is that a diagram is just that, a static picture. Tools such as Visio have no idea generation or reporting engine. Southbeach has a built in creativity and reporting engine that understands the notation. It is built for design and analysis, not free drawing.

I'm working in a team. Can I give Southbeach to my colleagues and clients?

There are substantive discounts for teams and volume licensing. Please visit our shop.

If you need to purchase larger numbers of licenses or a site license please write to

Would an Enterprise Architect find Southbeach useful?

Yes. In the same way that Southbeach can be used to to model a process or service, it can be used to model the useful and harmful aspects of an enterprise architecture. Southbeach does not claim to be substitute for professional enterprise architecture modelling tools, but it is rich enough to be useful in modelling those aspects of an architecture which drive improvement and transformation.

Southbeach provides an extensive and user-extensible tag library. This enables users to enrich the Southbeach Notation for any domain. For example, tags could be used to implement ITIL and TOGAF conventions. Rule sets developed can refer to tags, opening the path to the development of industry solution templates.

Are there training courses for Southbeach?

The tool itself requires little training. However, there is a rich training opportunity for applying Southbeach to specific methods, e.g. Root Cause Analysis, Situational Improvement, Problem Solving, TRIZ. Training could also be developed for the MyCreativity and MyReports rules languages.

If you wish to run a training course, or get involved in the delivery of Southbeach training, contact us.

Are you developing a version for the Apple platform?

There is currently no plan to develop a native iOS version. However, many of our customers use Southbeach on their Apple Mac desktop or Macbook Pro by using Parallels Desktop for Mac or VMWare Fusion. They report a seamless experience. Models work across both platforms.

A 'touch' version of Southbeach will be developed in the future, initially for Microsoft Windows 8 and interactive 'smart' screens. There is no plan for an iPad application at this time.

Why the strange name?

The early ideas for Southbeach Notation were drawn in the sand on South Beach, Miami, Florida, June 2005. The name was memorable and seemed to stick.

What does the future hold? Can I make suggestions?

We are gathering requirements for the development of Southbeach Modeller version 4.0. Your feedback drives our development plan. We welcome your ideas and requirements. Register your copy to be kept up to date. Click on the Feedback icon in the tool or write to

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