System Dynamics and Strategic Management: love at first sight

By Guido Noto
Located in Palermo, Italy
PhD candidate, Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, University of Palermo

System Dynamics (SD) has been proved to be a useful methodology to support both understanding and learning processes of complex systems and phenomena. Since its origin, SD has been successfully applied to many different fields of studies (e.g., climate change, physics, engineering, environmental sciences, economics, management, and so on). Among these, Strategic Management (SM) has a particular relevance as testified by several streams of research that originate from the combination between SD modelling and SM. Read more ›

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A saber-toothed cat is sitting in your front yard. What will you do next?

By Angelika Schanda
Located in Lebanon, New Hampshire (USA)
European Master in System Dynamics, Class 2013-2015 / isee systems

How humans react when facing an immediate canstockphoto4946198threat is programmed deeply into our brains. The response of humans today is the same as that of humans who – let’s say – faced a saber-toothed cat thousands of years ago. This example is often referred to as a symbol for our deepest instincts. Fear can drive our body and mind to maximum performance and swift action, securing our survival.

But how about more abstract problems such as climate change? They are nothing like meeting a saber-toothed cat. And yet, it seems that last year the abstract challenge has morphed into a more direct threat, as several crises throughout the globe shook us in 2015. Does this closeness evoke a simple fight-or-flight response, or can it become a wake-up call for dealing with global challenges more sustainably? Read more ›

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33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society

By Kay Kim
Master in Public Administration in International Development
Harvard Kennedy School, 2015


Kay Kim (fittingly holding a ‘shrunken earth’ when graduating)

This year, various academics, consultants, practitioners, policymakers and students from around the world will gather in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the 33rd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts from July 19-23, 2015. They will discuss their research and real-life applications of System Dynamics. Around the theme of “Reinventing life on a Shrinking Earth” participants will explore frameworks to understand business and societal challenges arising from increased interconnectivity. See details in the conference program. Read more ›

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Are we trained to criticize everything?

By R. Maximilian Happach
Located in Stuttgart, Germany
Ph.D. Student, Institute for Diversity Studies in Engineering, University of Stuttgart

European Master in System Dynamics, Class 2010-2012

After finishing the master program in system dynamics and starting working as a Ph.D. student, I recognized that I am quite often trying to find weak spots of theories, research articles, even news and television shows. It is almost like an addiction, I cannot stop focusing on it and I am asking myself if this is normal? In the following, I am presenting a study as one example of many and I chose it because, I had several arguments against this research in mind. I thought I would share the results with you.

I have recently listened to a podcast of the Freakonomics Radio called “Why do people keep having children?”. Read more ›

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New peaks, new perspectives

By Angelika Schanda
Located in Nijmegen, Netherlands
European Master in System Dynamics, Class 2013-2015

After studying systbeginningems thinking for a few years in several guises, I finally got the feeling that I was on to something. Then, on the very last day of the year, I discovered this dusty old book on a friend’s bookshelf: Systems Approaches to Management, Michael C. Jackson (2000). 10 out of 400 pages on system dynamics, as part of a much broader field in which there is still so much to discover. For me this was yet another reminder to bring more diverse perspectives to the blog … good that the year has just started and that there is new inspiration on the horizon! Read more ›

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Systems thinking and sustainability: A logical connection

By Carlo Cuijpers
Located in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sustainability/corporate social responsibility consultant at KPMG

European Master in System Dynamics, Class 2012-2014
Interests: systems and sustainability thinking, modelling sustainability issues

The average person has most likely never heard of ‘’Limits to Growth’’(Meadows, Meadows, Randers, & Behrens III, 1972), or the Club of Rome. Nevertheless, every systems thinker is familiar with the book and the story behind it – from reading it, watching the film (Last Call, 2012) or from their studies. It is possibly the systems thinking study which has received the most attention. As a consequence, the study caused a spike in interest in the field. Ever since there has been a strong link between systems and sustainability thinking. Read more ›

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Modelling for Organisational Learning

By Wissam El Hachem
Currently located in Bergen, Norway
Master in System Dynamics, University of Bergen

Interests: Supply chain management, Network flow, Production management

This short essay will try to define and explain organizational learning, its importance, the importance of modelling and what kind of modelling fits well with this purpose.

First, what is Organizational Learning and why is it important? Managers within a firm are expected to control a complex web of variables so the output of such a system would meet the best interests of the company. This is organizational learning. It has different levels, such as individual learning, culture, process, creativity and knowledge management which are summarized in Wang & Ahmed (2002). Mental Models are the basic elements in any company, and they drive any change that a company undertakes. Read more ›

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The many model thinkers

By Angelika Schanda
Located in Nijmegen, Netherlands
European Master in System Dynamics, Class 2013-2015

Modelers frequently refer to the notion that the question is not whether to use models, but which models to use and how to improve or integrate them. This idea builds on the assumption that people are model thinkers by nature. Therefore, challenging your mental models and comparing them to others is vital for developing more useful models. Better still than using many mental models is to formalize models and – you guessed it – better than having one formal model is using many formal models. Therefore, learning about diverse models and modeling techniques at workshops, webinars or online courses can improve your overall work. One of those courses starts today, Monday October 6 (more can be found in the Young Modeler event calendar). Read more ›

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Systems Issues in the Media: Climate Change

By Angelika Schanda
Located in Nijmegen, Netherlands
European Master in System Dynamics, Class 2013-2015

‘When it comes to climate change, why do we do so little when we know so much?’

Here are a few articles and a short documentary considering this conundrum. They argue that the limits to growth was right and that we don’t have another decade to waste. Today, September 21, groups all over the world organized what shall be the greatest marches to call for action about climate change. In preparation of this big awareness raising day, the short documentary Disruption was produced, offering a discussion on a system thinking level and featuring statements from system dynamicist John D. Sterman amongst others.



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The “reference mode zombie” trap

By John Huertas
Located in Panama City, Panama
Consultant and Partner at Stratendo Inc.

European Master in System Dynamics, Class 2010-2012
Interests: Small strategic models

Literature provides guidelines on which problems can be tackled with the system dynamics method (SD). However, in the short time that I have been practicing with my own firm, I have realized that not all problems that can be tackled with SD should actually be tackled with SD. Although at first sight this may seem obvious to some people, I thought sharing some situations in which problems should not be tackled with SD even if they could be tackled with SD would start a useful conversation. Read more ›

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  • 64th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences July 11, 2020 – July 14, 2020 Cape Town, South Africa
  • 38th International System Dynamics Conference July 19, 2020 – July 23, 2020 Bergen, Norway
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