Systems Dynamics Advice

Humbling thoughts from the introductory pages of John Sterman's textbook Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World, starting in the Preface:


Realistic and useful models are almost always of such complexity and nonlinearity that there are no known analytic solutions, and many of the mathematical tools you have studied have limited applicability. This book will help you use your strong technical background to develop your intuition and conceptual understanding of complexity and dynamics. Modeling human behavior differs from modeling physical systems in engineering and the sciences. We cannot put managers up on the lab bench and run experiments to determine their transfer function or frequency response. We believe all electrons follow the same laws of physics, but we cannot assume all people behave in the same way. Besides a solid grounding in the mathematics of dynamic systems, modeling human systems requires us to develop our knowledge of psychology, decision making, and organizational behavior. Finally, mathematical analysis, while necessary, is far from sufficient for successful systems thinking and modeling. For your work to have impact in the real world you must learn how to develop and implement models of human behavior in organizations, with all their ambiguity, time pressure, personalities, and politics. Throughout the book I have sought to illustrate how the technical tools and mathematical concepts you may have studied in the sciences or engineering can be applied to the messy world of the policy maker.

... and from Chapter 1, Section 1, a metaphor:

The challenge facing us all is how to move from generalizations about accelerating learning and systems thinking to tools and processes that help us understand complexity, design better operating policies, and guide changes in systems from the smallest business to the planet as a whole. However, learning about complex systems while you also live in them is difficult. We are all passengers on an aircraft we must not only fly but redesign in flight.

(cf. Forecasting Lessons from Systems Dynamics (2017-07-05), ...) - ^z - 2017-07-12