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
- looking at a problem holistically
- graphically depicting our understanding of a system's behavior and its underlying structure
- identify root causes, and
- 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.
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,
- A fire that breaks out in your town is an event. If you simply put out the fire, you're reacting; you have done nothing to prevent new fires.
- If you study patterns of where fires tend to break out, you might notice that certain neighborhoods seem to suffer more fires than others. you could adapt by locating more fire stations in those areas, but you still haven't done anything to prevent new fires.
- Now suppose you look at systems—such as smoke-detector distribution and building materials used—that influence the patterns of neighborhood-fire outbreaks. If you build new fire-alarm systems and establish fire and safety codes, you're actually doing something to prevent new fires.
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.