Strategic Systems Modeling

Course Objectives and Scope:
As human beings in an interconnected world, we face a number of complex and seemingly intractable problems including climate change, food security, global poverty and pandemic diseases. Understanding how to address such problems is the first step to solving them. This course offers an introduction to systems thinking and system dynamics modeling as an approach to diagnosing and solving complex business problems. Students will learn about key concepts and modeling tools in systems thinking for better decision making and analysis, and a range of tools to address central concerns and current topics, including: health policy and management, mapping tools for system dynamics, crisis/pandemic management, case studies, sustainability and management simulations.  
Systems thinking offers a lens on organizations, environments and human behavior that foregrounds ongoing evolution and conceptualizes them as a non-linear dynamic system. System dynamics modeling is a toolset through which the systems thinking perspective is used to analyze complex sytems behavior. In this class you will learn to visualize a system in terms of the structures and policies that create dynamics and regulate performance. System dynamics allows us to create models (or “micro-worlds”) where space and time can be compressed, slowed, and stopped so we can experience the long-term side effects of decisions, systematically explore new strategies, and develop our understanding of complex systems. We use simulation models, case studies, and management flight simulators to develop principles of policy design for successful management of complex strategies. We consider the use of systems thinking to promote effective organizational learning.  
The purpose of modeling is to improve our understanding of the ways in which an organization's performance is related to its internal structure and operating policies as well as those of customers, competitors, suppliers and other stakeholders, then use that knowledge to design and implement policies that lead to sustained improvement. During the course you will use several simulation models to explore such strategic issues as fluctuating sales, production and earnings; market growth and stagnation; the diffusion of new technologies; process improvement; the rationality of managerial decision making; project management dynamics, health policy, environmental sustainability, and other topics.