FAQ

  1. What is System Dynamics?
  2. Is there a professional body?
  3. What is Systems Thinking?
  4. What is Simulation?
  5. Where can I study System Dynamics in Switzerland?
  6. Are there specialist software tools?
  7. I’m interested in business applications. How successful has it been?
  8. What can the Chapter provide?
  9. I’m considering introducing System Dynamics into my teaching curriculum. Can I get advice?
  10. How do I join the Chapter?
  11. Do I have to join the System Dynamics Society to be in the Chapter?
  12. I’d like to join the System Dynamics Society. How do I do this?

 

  1. What is System Dynamics?
    System dynamics deals with how things change through time, which includes most of what most people find important. It uses computer simulation to take the knowledge we already have about details in the world around us and to show why our social and physical systems behave the way they do. System dynamics demonstrates how most of our own decision-making policies are the cause of the problems that we usually blame on others, and how to identify policies we can follow to improve our situation.
    It was introduced by Jay Forrester in the late 1950s who first applied the underpinning control engineering principles of System Dynamics to industrial challenges including inventory management. Since then it has been applied to wide range of studies across business, urban planning, environmental studies, macroeconomics, healthcare and other public policy areas.
    For more information about system dynamics visit the homepage of the System Dynamics Society: www.systemdynamics.org
  2. Is there a professional body?
    The System Dynamics Society is the worldwide body for workers in the field who include academics, researchers, students, consultants, public policy workers and corporate employees. The Society produces the peer-reviewed journal, System Dynamics Review and also organizes the annual conference each July. The Swiss Chapter has been formally adopted by the Society.
  3. What is Systems Thinking?
    Systems Thinking is a qualitative method that focuses on mapping a system under study. It typically will not use simulation but use qualitative discussion and mapping to identify drivers of system behavior and potential policies to improve its design. Systems Thinking approaches include the concepts of System Dynamics but also adopt a wide range of other systems methods.
  4. What is Simulation?
    Simulation is a representation of the real world system that can be used to observe its behavior over time. Simulation models are typically computer generated and allows the user to modify variables and structure and understand the impact this has on the system.
    System Dynamics simulations use a stock and flow representation to describe the system under study and a number of software tools are available.
  5. Where can I study System Dynamics in Switzerland?
    The field of System Dynamics can be studied around Switzerland at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  6. Are there specialist software tools?
    A key element of the methodology that has evolved over the years is the need to describe system structure in a visual manner to share with model developers and stakeholders within the system under study.
    Although simulation models can be developed in spreadsheets or code, a number of tools have been developed that provide graphical user interfaces to represent the structure of the system, input data and interpret results. Each has strengths and this list is not intended to endorse a particular tool.
    The major tools are:
    Vensim
    Powersim
    IThink/Stella
    There are also several other tools that have been designed to represent particular areas of System Dynamics including mystrategy that provides a modelling environment reflecting Strategy Dynamics.
  7. I’m interested in business applications. How successful has it been?
    Many businesses are using System Dynamics. Not all publish their work widely of course but several organizations that have had a long association with the approach include BP Amoco, BT, Ford, General Motors, Harley Davidson, Johnson & Johnson and Shell.
    Business application areas are wide and include strategic marketing, human resource planning, due diligence for M&A, product development and innovation, asset management, capital investment.
  8. What can the Chapter provide?
    The Swiss Chapter consists of practitioners and educators. The Chapter’s mission is to enable networking, support and share information within the group. In addition it seeks to promote the value of Systems Dynamics within Switzerland. To achieve this, the Chapter hosts this website, holds meetings and provides a Swiss and European focus on System Dynamics.
  9. I’m considering introducing System Dynamics into my teaching curriculum. Can I get advice?
    The Chapter seeks to promote the use of System Dynamics within teaching curricula. The Chapter therefore provides a list of courses, the leaders of which could be first points of contact. The World Wide Web provides a range of freely available teaching resources, notably at MIT.
  10. How do I join the Chapter?
    The Chapter is open to all individuals and you can apply online.
    Note that this will not automatically enroll you in the System Dynamics Society.
  11. Do I have to join the System Dynamics Society to be in the Chapter?
    No. There is no need to be a member of the System Dynamics Society in order to join the Swiss Chapter.
  12. I’d like to join the System Dynamics Society. How do I do this?
    More details and online application is available at www.systemdynamics.org.
    Note that this will not automatically enroll you in the Swiss Chapter.

© UK Chapter of the SD Society, representation with permission.