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This course provides an intensive, hands-on introduction to system dynamics, a unique framework for understanding and managing complex businesses and organizations. Participants are introduced to a variety of tools, including mapping techniques, simulation models, and MIT’s “management flight simulators” to help them understand the sources of persistent problems and how business decisions may result in complicated cause-and-effect loops.
In a world of growing complexity, many of the most vexing problems facing managers arise from the unanticipated side-effects of their own past actions. In response, organizations struggle to increase the speed of learning and adopt a more systemic approach. The challenge is to move beyond outdated slogans about accelerated learning and “thinking systemically” to implementing practical tools that help managers design better operating policies, understand complexity, and guide effective change.
This program introduces participants to system dynamics, a powerful framework for identifying, designing, and implementing high-leverage interventions for sustained success in complex systems. It has been used successfully in diverse industries and organizations, such as Airbus, Compaq, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Merck. Developed at MIT more than fifty years ago by computer pioneer Jay Forrester, system dynamics led to the creation of management flight simulators that allow managers to accelerate learning, experience the long-term side effects of decisions, and design structures and strategies for greater success.
Through intensive, hands-on workshops and interactive experiments, participants will be exposed to the principles of systems thinking and practical methods for putting them into action. They will be introduced to a variety of tools, including mapping techniques, simulation models, and MIT’s management flight simulators—such as the Beer Game — which they can apply to their own business environment as soon as they complete the program. Throughout the week, participants work in small groups and interact closely with the course leaders, Professors Sterman and Repenning.
THE BEER GAME
“There is no actual beer in the Beer Game,” says John Sterman.
Rather, the Beer Game is a table game, developed in the late 1950s by digital computing pioneer and Sloan professor Jay Forrester, SM ’45. Played with pen, paper, printed plastic tablecloths, and poker chips, it simulates the supply chain of the beer industry. In so doing, it illuminates aspects of system dynamics, a signature mode of MIT thought: it illustrates the nonlinear complexities of supply chains and the way individuals are circumscribed by the systems in which they act.
“In my view, the real purpose and real value of a Sloan education are to develop [students’] capabilities as systems thinkers and the leadership abilities to use those capabilities to build the world we truly want. Not for the short run. Not to boost the bottom line, or to pump up the stock price. But to create the world we truly want, for the long run.”
You will receive a certificate of course completion at the conclusion of this course. You may also be interested in our Executive Certificates which are designed around a central themed track and consist of several courses. Learn more.