System Dynamics
Systems Thinking

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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..

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System Dynamics & Systems Thinking Special Interest Group.

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Description of Success to the Successful One of the System Archetypes is "Success to the Successful". According to this archetype, when two (internal) entities compete among themselves for limited re...
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Description of Tragedy of the Commons One of the System Archetypes is "Tragedy of the Commons". This archetype tells us about what effect an unsystematic approach in an organization can have on long-...
System Archetype 3: Shifting the Burden
Description of Shifting the Burden One of the System Archetypes is "Shifting the Burden". In this type of organizational problem, a temporary or short-term solution is applied to solve the problem wh...

Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about System Dynamics & Systems Thinking. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

System Archetypes Overview
Systems archetypes are models that describe patterns of organization that keep recurring. They are helpful to show, explain and gain deeper insights into certain patterns of behavior of a system under...

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

Systems Thinking Schools and Approaches
- PLANNING SCHOOL - systems thinking is a holistic approach to planning complex systems. Pioneers of this approach include C. W. Churchman and russ ackoff.
- SYSTEM DYNAMICS SCHOOL - Systems thin...

Nonlinear Dynamical Systems
Nonlinear dynamical systems can be linearized, if the relationship between elements of this is information.
To formalize the interaction between elements of the system it is important to know the...

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about System Dynamics & Systems Thinking. Here you will find professional advices by experts.

Complex Adaptive Systems

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How to Use Counterintuition to Fight 5 Frequent Decision Making Errors

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Complexity Principles

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Charasteristics of a conducive environemnt for complex adaptive systems: 1. Complex adaptive systems are at risk when i...
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The $ystem-oriented Management of Efficiency of Mass Communication in Retail. How to forecast growth of knowledge of t...

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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

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