System Dynamics
Systems Thinking

Knowledge Center

Summary, forum, best practices, expert tips and information sources.

What is Systems Thinking? Definition

Systems Thinking is an approach for studying and managing complex feedback systems, such as one finds in corporations and other social systems. In fact it has been used to describe practically every sort of feedback system.

System Dynamics is more or less the same as Systems Thinking, but emphasizes the usage of computer-simulation tools.

The term System means an interdependent group of things forming a unified pattern. Feedback refers to the situation of X affecting Y, and Y in turn affecting X. Perhaps through a chain of causes and effects. One cannot study the link between X and Y and, independently, the link between Y and X and predict how the system will behave. Only the study of the whole feedback system will lead to correct results.

What is System Dynamics?

System Dynamics is based on Systems Thinking, but takes the additional steps of constructing and testing a computer simulation model. The System Dynamics field developed initially from the book "Industrial Dynamics" of Jay W. Forrester.

Steps in the System Dynamics methodology

  1. Identify a problem,
  2. Develop a dynamic hypothesis explaining the cause of the problem,
  3. Build a computer simulation model of the system at the root of the problem,
  4. Test the model to be certain that it reproduces the behavior seen in the real world,
  5. Devise and test in the model alternative policies that alleviate the problem,
  6. Implement the solution.

Often these steps have to be reviewed and refined, going back towards an earlier step. For instance, the first problem identified may be only a symptom of a still greater problem.

Typical applications of System Dynamics

  • strategy and corporate planning
  • business process development
  • public management and policy
  • biological and medical modeling
  • energy and the environment
  • theory development in the natural and social sciences
  • dynamic decision making
  • complex nonlinear dynamics

Book: John Sterman -  Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking.. -

System Dynamics & Systems Thinking Special Interest Group

Special Interest Group (353 members)

Forum about System Dynamics & Systems Thinking  

The most recent topics about: System Dynamics & Systems Thinking.

Soft, Hard and Viable Systems
Three systems methods are normally used: 1. Soft systems method - complex messy situations 2. Hard systems method- dif (...)
1 reactions
Systems Thinking Schools and Approaches
- PLANNING SCHOOL - systems thinking is a holistic approach to planning complex systems. Pioneers of this approach inclu (...)
3 reactions
System Archetypes Overview
Systems archetypes are models that describe patterns of organization that keep recurring. They are helpful to show, expl (...)
1 reactions
Nonlinear Dynamical Systems
Nonlinear dynamical systems can be linearized, if the relationship between elements of this is information. To formaliz (...)
7 reactions
🔥 NEW System Archetype 10: Growth and Underinvestment
Description of Growth and Underinvestment One of the System Archetypes is "Growth and Underinvestment". This archetype (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 2: Limits to Growth
Description of Limits to Growth One of the System Archetypes is "Limits to Growth". This archetype is a systematic repr (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 3: Shifting the Burden
Description of Shifting the Burden One of the System Archetypes is "Shifting the Burden". In this type of organizationa (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 4: Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor
Description of Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor One of the System Archetypes is "Shifting the Burden to the Interv (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 5: Eroding Goals
Description of Eroding Goals One of the System Archetypes is "Eroding Goals". This archetype shows and explains how hi (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 6: Escalation
Description of Escalation One of the System Archetypes is "Escalation". This archetype tells us how the performance of (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 7: Success to the Successful
Description of Success to the Successful One of the System Archetypes is "Success to the Successful". According to this (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 8: Tragedy of the Commons
Description of Tragedy of the Commons One of the System Archetypes is "Tragedy of the Commons". This archetype tells us (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 9: Fixes that Fail
Description of Fixes that Fail One of the System Archetypes is "Fixes that Fail". A solution to a problem which is very (...)
0 reactions
System Archetype 1: Balancing Process with Delay
Description of Balancing Process with Delay One of the System Archetypes is "Balancing Process with Delay". It is perha (...)
0 reactions
Best Practices about System Dynamics & Systems Thinking

Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

🥇 Complexity in Systems Approach
Complexity exists due to a multitude of worldviews held by organisational members and external stakeholders and the cult (...)
5 reactions

🥈 Value of System Approach
What value does the system approach have to understanding and analyzing behaviour in oganisations? (...)
6 reactions

🥉 Systems Thinking is Considering Issues Holistically
Systems Methodology can aid our analysis of organisations because its key assumption is to consider issues holistically. (...)
1 reactions

Strategy > SD > Performance?
Could we use System Dynamics to assess if a firm's strategy is responsible for its performance? (...)
1 reactions

Expert Tips about System Dynamics & Systems Thinking

Here you will find professional advices by experts.

Complex Adaptive Systems

Organizational Theory (...)

Structure your Organization at the Edge of Chaos

Organizational Development (...)

How to Use Counterintuition to Fight 5 Frequent Decision Making Errors

Strategic Decision Making, Dealing with Complexity, Dealing with Uncertainty, Strategy (...)

Complexity Principles

Organizational theory (...)
Information Sources about System Dynamics & Systems Thinking

Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

Systems, Systems Thinking and Soft System Methodology (SSM)

Systems Thinking, Soft System Methodology, SSM, Checkland (...)

Are you Facing Complexity? Systems Thinking 101

Systems Thinking, Dealing with Complexity, Strategic Complexity (...)

Systems Thinking for Leaders

Systems Thinking, Leadership, Gestalt Theory, Complexity (...)

Introduction Into Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking, Communication (...)

Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaotic Decision Making Contexts

Decision Making, Situations, Context, Types, Complex Circumstances, Chaos, Crisis Management (...)

Efficiency of Mass Communication

Retail Communication (...)

Compare with System Dynamics:  Gestalt Theory  |  Strategy Dynamics  |  Soft Systems Methodology  |  Scenario Planning  |  Analogical Strategic Reasoning  |  Five Disciplines  |  OODA loop  |  Game Theory  |  Spiral Dynamics  |  Simulation  |  Quality Function Deployment

Return to Management Hub: Change & Organization  |  Decision-making & Valuation  |  Ethics & Responsibility  |  Human Resources  |  Knowledge & Intangibles  |  Leadership  |  Strategy

More Management Methods, Models and Theory

Special Interest Group Leader

Are you an expert in System Dynamics & Systems Thinking? Sign up for free

Link to this knowledge center

Copy this code to your web site:


About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2020 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V15.6 - Last updated: 23-9-2020. All names ™ of their owners.