For the past few months I’ve been taking a distance learning course at WPI called “System Dynamics Foundations: Managing Complexity”. The course covers a broad range of topics about the system dynamics methodology and how it has been applied in the real world.
One of the things I really like about the course is the different perspective the instructors bring to the table (or in this case my computer screen.) Last week’s lecture focused on three different styles of system dynamics modeling – Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs), insight-based models and calibrated models. While both instructors agreed there is value in all three approaches to dynamic modeling, there was clearly a difference of opinion about what is required to actually DO something with a proposed solution to a problem.
The topic got me to thinking about the types of STELLA and iThink models that are being built and how they are being used to DO something about real world problems. I would guess that the majority of the models fall into the insight-based category. One of the reasons we put so much effort into creating communication features in our software is so that those insights can be shared and discovered by others. The “ah-ha” moments that come from experimenting with simulations are often a great vehicle for getting conversations going about a particular issue and discussing possible solutions.