LeadU presents System Dynamics


System Dynamics

"System Dynamics: Things today are the things of yesterday plus any changes. The changes are the result of the things of yesterday. Now extend this to tomorrow." – James Melhuish

Systems Dynamics for dummies, as a colleague said to me from MIT, is the Fifth Discipline, most of us read that book, but we didn’t take away from it that it was systems dynamics dressed up in different clothes.

System dynamics is an approach to understanding the behaviour of complex systems over time. It deals with internal feedback loops and time delays that affect the behaviour of the entire system.[1] What makes using system dynamics different from other approaches to studying complex systems is the use of feedback loops and stocks and flows. These elements help describe how even seemingly simple systems display baffling nonlinearity. – Wiki

In FLOW, we need to embrace System Dynamics in as rudimentary form as possible, and as advanced as possible, where we can.

A friend and client told me this:

Once you understand that stocks and flows are like bathtubs out there, and stuff flows in –> at a flow rate…  And stuff flows out–>at a flow rate, then what we need to model is what we think those bathtubs are, and what we think the rates in and out are, and what they are connected to over time.

Streaming really helps here, as we can model almost anything (NOT that we would want too! and we don’t!), but what we decide is important to model can help us understand how to design, scaffold and support with so much more sense-making, IMHO.

Over time, I’ve learned some things about Systems Dynamics, and it has been useful. I’m not a full-fledged modeler yet, but like everything else in FLOW, I am close with one and we meet regularly to discuss the world through these eyes. There are courses at MIT and of course, software and a googlefull of ideas (like that new word<G>) available.

The key for me is to add it to our FLOW toolkit, because as we model Happiness AND Success Overtime, it’s really important; I mean really important to model reality, even though the MODEL is NOT the territory, nor is any map.  Just understanding the ramifications of decisions we make can be incredibly helpful to design, scaffolding, and support.

Helpful Hint: Systems thinking offers you a powerful new perspective, a specialized language, and a set of tools that you can use to address the most stubborn problems in your everyday life and work. Systems thinking is a way of understanding reality that emphasizes the relationships among a system’s parts, rather than the parts themselves. Based on a field of study known as system dynamics, systems thinking has a practical value that rests on a solid theoretical foundation.

Action Step: Download an overview of Applied Systems Dynamics for Integrated Learning Communities, and sit with it awhile.

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    We hope you pick up valuable insights, ideas, and tools during this process, which you can use for your own development as well as your work and leadership with others.

    You, Me, and We @F-L-O-W

    Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.

    Mike R. Jay
    Leadership University

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