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System Dynamics
About system dynamics

What is System Dynamics?

The purpose of System Dynamics is to help people understand complex and dynamic systems and help them make better decisions. The field provides a philosophy and tools to model and analyze dynamic systems. Equally important, the field provides techniques and tools to investigate current decision making and to help decision makers learn.

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The purpose of System Dynamics is to help people understand complex and dynamic systems and help them make better decisions.
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Pexels: Sergio Souza

Main content

System Dynamics is a computer-based mathematical modeling approach for strategy development and better decision making in complex systems. This approach uses computer-aided simulation methodology based on feedback systems theory which complements the other Systems Thinking approaches. Also, it provides tools and methods to analyse dynamic systems.It can help solving problems arising in complex socio-economic systems (economic, social, managerial, political, public health or etc.) and as well as physical and/or natural systems where humans interact with them (physiological, environmental, ecological, or etc.). In addition, modeling language is intuitive, and it is common for all these fields which makes it an ideal tool for interdisciplinary work.Like Systems Thinking, System Dynamics has also a holistic and causality driven approach to describe and understand the relations between components or variables within a system    which influences it internally or externally. But unlike the Systems Thinking, System Dynamics quantifies relations between variables to develop a view of behavior of the system over time through computer simulations.

System Dynamics Approach

As the complexity of our world increases, we need holistic approaches to tackle the problems we encounter in this complex and developing world. Missing the holistic view could lead us to struggle with the symptoms of a larger problem arising from the structure of the system. Hence, System Dynamics approach provide us tools and methods to understand the complex systems.

Variables, accumulation, and time delays

Feedback loops are basically chains of cause-and-effect relations that forms a loop where its output routes back to the chain as an input. Hence, these systems feed back into itself. All systems contain feedback loops since all dynamics of systems arise from interactions of feedback loops. Therefore, identifying the feedback loops is crucial in system dynamics methodology.

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System Dynamics Group

Feedback loops

Feedback loops are basically chains of cause-and-effect relations that forms a loop where its output routes back to the chain as an input. Hence, these systems feed back into itself. All systems contain feedback loops since all dynamics of systems arise from interactions of feedback loops. Therefore, identifying the feedback loops is crucial in system dynamics methodology.

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Photo:
System Dynamics Group

System structure

Components of the system build feedback loops and the relations between these feedback loops create structures which form the behavior and events of in a system. Every system has an underlying structure which determines the behavior of the system. Hence, to understand the system, it is necessary to discover the underlying structure through mapping it.

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Modelling and simulation

After mapping the system structure, computers are used to develop a model og the system via quantifying the relations between system components. The, the model is simulated on computer software to observe the output of the system.

Policy design  and strategy development

Observing the behavior of the system with computer simulation allows us to analyse the system and the underlying structure. Hence, it helps us to understand the system better. Having better understanding of the system proveides us the opportunity of designing policies to solve problems in complex systems.