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Humanities Major Attempts Dynamic Modeling and Survives!

January 15th, 2010 1 comment

This post is written by Rolf Olsen, a participant in our Introduction to Dynamic Modeling with iThink and STELLA workshop held last month in Colorado Springs.  We thought Rolf’s perspective would offer insights for those of you who are new to Systems Thinking or curious about applying dynamic modeling to real-world issues.

Rolf Olsen, Workshop Participant

I was very excited about a last-minute chance to attend the introductory iThink/STELLA workshop, but to be honest, on the flight to Colorado Springs, I started to become apprehensive.  Who was I trying to kid?  Sure, I’d heard the terms “stock” and “flow” and I understood their roles as the nouns and verbs of the software.  I’d even read a few chapters in Barry Richmond’s Introduction to Systems Thinking.  But the first time I started up the software and stared at that blank workspace, I had no clue where to begin!  Adding to my anguish, I was quite certain there would be others there who were much smarter than me and really knew what they were doing.

In college I spent most of my time and energy studying English and French, language, literature, cinema, art history, and so forth. I managed to avoid all higher math like the plague (although I did reasonably well in basic statistics).  My engineer father often reminded me that my degree in Humanities prepared me for almost nothing.  After college, I stumbled into a career in marketing – quite fertile territory for exploring system dynamics and modeling, as it turns out.  I spent a few formative years in an ad agency and at a regional banking system, before finding my stride marketing and managing nonprofit arts and culture organizations. Today I work in marketing and communication in a large academic medical center.

For years I’ve used spreadsheets to model various ‘what if’ scenarios.  In the arts, I used spreadsheets to create budgets and set ticket prices, always seeking ways to better predict revenue from ticket sales at different prices, for different types of performances (e.g., modern dance, string quartet, jazz ensemble), or on different days of the week.

Preparing for the iThink/STELLA workshop, I decided I’d like to try to model demand in a market area for laser vision correction surgery, popularly known as LASIK or PRK.  That seemed simple enough.  I might be able to bluff my way through this workshop after all!

Read more…

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Lake Morey – A Great Place for a Summer Workshop!

May 1st, 2009 No comments

View from Lake Morey Resort glof course

Our next Introduction to Dynamic Modeling Workshop is scheduled to be at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont on August 5th – 7th.  You may be wondering  “Why Lake Morey?”

For starters, the resort is located along the shores of Lake Morey, surrounded by Vermont hills in a beautiful natural setting. It has a golf course, tennis courts and lake front swimming facilities that attendees can enjoy while taking a break from the workshop.

Not only is Vermont a wonderful place to visit in the summer months, but Lake Morey is only ten miles north of the isee systems offices. We love being able to drop in on workshops that are close by or meet with customers over a beer after hours.  It gives us an opportunity to learn more about the amazing work people are doing with our software and to get their ideas for future development.  It also gives our customers a chance to get to know us and to put a face to someone they’ve been talking to over the phone or via email.

We hope to see you this summer! If there’s someone on the isee staff that you’d like to meet with, be sure to let us know.

Please give us a call at (603) 448-4990 or send an email to support@iseesystems.com to check on availability. 

Video Demonstrates Modeling with Modules

April 1st, 2009 No comments

One of our recent webinars, What’s New in STELLA and iThink Version 9.1, highlights some of the new features added in last summer’s v9.1 release.  Karim Chichakly, Director of Product Development, guides you though the model building steps to create a supply and demand model that investigates the current housing crisis.

Among other topics, Karim covers how to organize your model with modules, draw causal loop diagrams and import data from multiple spread sheets.  Preview the 40 minute presentation with this 1.5 minute video clip.

>> Download the sample model files used in the presentation.

>> View complete webinar presentation.


Publishing Your Models to the Web with isee NetSim

March 26th, 2009 2 comments

You might have missed one of our recent free live webinars, Publishing Your Models to the Web with isee NetSim, that featured a demonstration of our isee Netsim product.  We periodically run these webinars to allow customers the opportunity to see live software demonstrations and ask questions in real time.  Video archives of these webinars are posted on our website.

In this session, Jeremy Merritt presented a live demonstration of  isee Netsim.  isee Netsim lets you publish your STELLA or iThink models to the web so that anyone with an internet connection and a web browser can run them. If you’re curious about how this simple process works, you can view the archived webinar video that shows how to prepare, export and publish a model to the web.

Get a taste of the higher resolution 40 minute presentation by watching this one minute preview.

>> View complete webinar presentation.


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“Thinking in Systems” book inspires online course

March 6th, 2009 12 comments

thinkinginsystemsOne of the questions I often get asked in both my professional and personal life is “What is Systems Thinking?”  It seems like a simple question but the answer can be very different depending on who you’re talking to.  Much of my career has been involved in the development of software so it is only natural for a lot of the folks I know to think of “systems” as having something to do with computers.  Then there are certain unnamed members of my family who still don’t quite understand what it is I do for a living.   And even when I do my best to explain, their eyes glaze over and they claim to get it “sort of”.  That’s why I was so excited after I read the book Thinking in Systems – A Primer by Donnella Meadows.  Finally there’s a book I can recommend to everyone because it so clearly explains what this systems stuff is all about.

I have Chris Soderquist of Pontifex Consulting to thank for recommending Thinking in Systems to me but also for suggesting we collaborate on an online course based on the book.  Chris was one of the book reviewers and together with Diana Wright of the Sustainability Institute (the book’s editor) we developed a syllabus for a four-session web seminar series titled Thinking in Systems: Practical Lessons for Building Sustainable Organizations & Communities.

Here’s how the online course will work.  For four consecutive Fridays in April and May participants will log on to a web site where the course is being hosted. (We use the GoToWebinar service.)  During each 70 minute session, Chris and Diana will present materials  and provide step-by-step instruction followed by an interactive discussion period.  Sessions will be recorded and all of the course materials will be available for download afterwards.

[UPDATEThe live course is now complete but we have made the recorded series available for purchase]

We’re really excited about this course because it is so relevant to the headlines we’ve been reading daily and will provide a framework for discussion regardless of your Systems Thinking experience level.   If you’ve never done any modeling before, this course will be a great place to start.  We’re even offering a time limited student license of iThink or STELLA for course participants.

Looking forward to having you join us on Fridays, beginning April 17th.

Dynamic Modeling Workshop in Cambridge, MA

February 11th, 2009 No comments
Steve Peterson coaches workshop attendees

Steve Peterson coaches workshop attendees

Our next workshop Introduction to Dynamic Modeling with STELLA and iThink will be held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston in Cambridge, MA on March 24-26th. 

One of the benefits of attending the workshop is access to our consulting partners from Lexidyne LLC who bring a ton of real-world practical experience to class.  Come with a real modeling  project in hand and they’ll coach you through the process of conceptualizing and creating a dynamic model with STELLA or iThink.

Due to the hands-on nature of the workshop, class sizes are limited.   Please give us a call at (603) 448-4990 or send an email to support@iseesystems.com to check on availability. 

We look forward to seeing you in Cambridge!

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