A Systems Approach to Crisis Preparedness and Organizational Resilience

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Introduction to System Dynamics

Tuesday, March 15 dinner-lecture introducing system processes, the archetypes which serve as the building blocks for modeling system behavior. 5:15-6:30 pm. At the Faculty Club (Inn@Penn)

Wednesday, March 16 6:00-9:30 pm. 3 ½ hour introductory System Dynamics workshop simulation, You must BE ON TIME, that is completely ready and engaged to participate at 6:00 pm and able to stay until 9:30 pm. In the Max Kade Center, 3401 Walnut Street, Room 329-A (right next to the OD office)

About Systems Thinking: Structure Determines Behavior

Due to human’s bounded rationality, people tend to look at a problem from a local and partial perspective and adopt solutions that create unintended consequences in the long run. As a result, today’s solutions become tomorrow’s problems, and the harder you push, the harder the system pushes back. Systems thinking and system dynamics have generated a broad array of tools that enables us to escape this trap by

  1. looking at a problem holistically
  2. graphically depicting our understanding of a system's behavior and its underly­ing structure
  3. identify root causes, and
  4. design high-leverage interventions to address root causes of a problem.

Tools such as causal loops, behavior over time graphs, stock and flow diagrams, and systems archetypes—enable us to depict our understanding of a system, and simulation models based on these depictions help us test the potential impact of interven­tions.

In this talk, we will learn some core principles and tools of systems thinking and how they can be applied to our daily lives in an interactive workshop style. We will learn how a system’s structure determines its behavior by exploring  fundamental modes of dynamic behavior such as exponential growth, goal seeking, oscillation, limits to growth, and overshoot and collapse. These basic building blocks for understanding dynamic complex systems are critically valuable tools for enabling effec­tive systems thinking.

System Dynamics Simulation

 “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  – Albert Einstein

The simulation game we will play illustrates the importance of systems thinking, using the exam­ple of an integrative supply chain. A systems thinking perspective helps us see events and patterns in our lives in a new light—and respond to them in higher leverage ways. For example,

Systems thinking is a critical leadership capability because redesign can efficiently and effectively lead to desired long term outcomes, as opposed to symptomatic fixes. Our simulation illustrates experientially not only how to think structurally, but also to understand each other's mental models, and collaborate as a team to achieve a shared vision.

Joe Hsueh, Ph.D.

Dr. Hsueh is a system dynamics modeler, lecturer and consultant. He obtained his Ph.D. in manage­ment from the System Dynamics Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He works with Prof. John Sterman, the director of the System Dynamics Group, and Prof. Peter Senge, founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning.  At MIT, Joe worked with Prof. Sterman to develop the Industry Evolution Management Flight Simulator, a system dynam­ics-based simulation game that illustrates the industry conditions under which various corpo­rate strategies improve firm performance. It is now being used in the core MBA Strategic Manage­ment class at MIT. He also developed the Clean Technology Startups Management Flight Simulator with a particular focus on the dynamic effects of human resource allocation, compensa­tion structure, and business and fund-raising strategies of a startup company. Joe has conducted systems thinking, learning organization and leadership workshops for corporations in China, Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. and has lectured at MIT, National Taiwan University and Univer­sity of Tokyo. He is passionate about helping individuals and organizations develop systems thinking capabilities so they can see the underlying system, identify root causes, and design high-leverage interventions.

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Date Page Created: Apr 20, 2011 Last Page Update: Mar 13, 2011