NBS Thought Leaders offer guidance on sustainable business models for the 21st century. Thought Leaders are leading academics and practitioners: world experts on sustainability issues. Here, Dr. John Sterman, a world leader in the field of system dynamics, identifies key ways that businesses can incorporate systems thinking. Dr. Sterman is a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and has been widely honored for his research and innovative use of interactive simulations in management education and policymaking.
A rite of passage for new Sloan MBA students provides lessons in systems thinking.
Senior lecturer Anjali Sastry shares lessons from MIT Sloan's GlobalHealth Lab.
The award is presented by the society every other year for the best "real world” application of system dynamics, and is “based primarily on demonstrated measurable benefit to an organization through the use of system dynamics, and secondarily for new ideas that improve the art of applying system dynamics, or for relating work to existing system dynamics literature and/or other disciplines.”
What’s the best way to address the risks of climate change? Mitigation or Adaptation? Should the world cut greenhouse gas emissions to lower the risks of harm from climate change (mitigation), or should we just get used to it (adaptation), spending to build seawalls, move populations inland, and figure out how to grow food for more than 9 billion people in a world of higher temperatures, droughts, and extreme weather?
It's not just TV that has plodding zombies massed against agile, adaptive people. Organizations also display either zombie or agile hero qualities. In zombie organizations, engineers, doctors, nurses, mechanics or managers encounter problems like missing information, missing documentation, unclear assignments, missing materials or even missing colleagues. Yet, not really seeing them as abnormalities, they don't solve them, unrelenting when something is amiss, not pausing to investigate and develop solutions.
In the last 10 years, there has been a dramatic reduction in manufacturing jobs in the U.S. due to a combination of factors, such as the economic crisis and foreign competition. But manufacturing jobs can return to the U.S., and a key component of that return involves innovation to facilitate product variety.
Health care is an extreme outlier. With everything else – cars, computers, entertainment, transportation– we assume that availability and quality will go up while unit costs keep going down, and goods and services become more plentiful. But not with health care. Appropriately enough for someone who works at MIT, an answer can be found by considering this nation’s health care system as a system engineering problem.