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Mentorship Programs

The System Dynamics Society recognizes the importance of mentoring for the future of our field. To that end, we offer four options to support those trying to learn and apply systems thinking and System Dynamics skills. All programs are free of charge to Society members through the generous donation of time by experienced practitioners in the field.  For more immediate support consider making a request on our General Discussion Forum or Facebook Discussion Group.

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Peer Mentoring

Groups of students organized around a common interest and geographic proximity learn together.

ONE-ON-ONE Mentoring

Intensive long-term coaching to build a map or System Dynamics model for work or school. 

Modeling Assistance

One-on-one coaching on specific System Dynamics modeling questions during the annual conference.

Publishing Assistance

One-on-one coaching for successful publication of relevant papers in scientific  journals

Become a Mentor

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentoring typically consists of students who join early in their academic career and continue together until all members have completed their education and moved on to employment after graduation.  Many continue even longer as they continue to support each other in building their careers.  Groups of students are organized around a common interest and geographic proximity. These groups meet regularly to share their work.  The typical commitment is 1 – 1.5 hour sessions every 1-3 weeks, typically with breaks over the summer.  A group leader emerges whose responsibility will be to organize the meetings and the agenda, ideally on a regular basis with advance notice.  The peer mentoring groups may elect to receive support from an experienced mentor whose role will be to listen in, ask questions, and provide insight and suggestions for the members’ work.  

This program was developed by the Student Chapter of the Society under the leadership of Laura Black and Larry Gottschamer and is currently administered by their President Kelechi Odemena and Vice President Emiliya Suprun

One-on-One Mentoring

With one-on-one mentoring, the mentor meets with a mentee at predetermined intervals to discuss their work and provide technical and process advice. This service is intended for a person who desires regular coaching to build a causal map or System Dynamics simulation model.  Mentoring may cover any or all of the stages of modeling (problem definition, model formulation, model testing) and possibly also advice on writing and presentations. The typical commitment is one hour-long meeting per week with some preparation required in between by both mentor and mentee. The relationship can endure as long as needed by the student which could be weeks, months, or even years.  This program is best for someone who desires intensive ongoing tutoring and support for their mapping and modeling.   Recent experience with mentoring suggests that mentees should not be rank beginners but should rather have taken a class or read a book and be ready for the next step: building their own map or model.  If you are not yet ready for a mentor, please check out the learning resources in our bookstore and the free learning resources from our partner organization, the Creative Learning Exchange, which include Road Maps: A Guide to Learning System Dynamics and System Dynamics in Education Project: Guided Study Program. 

The one-on-one mentorship program was developed by Jack Homer (VP Professional Practice) and Gary Hirsch (AVP of Professional Practice). 

Modeling Assistance Workshop

The popular Modeling Assistance Workshop (MAW)is ideally suited for a one-time problem or modeling question on which you may be stuck.  It is typically offered for members attending the our annual conference during the summer. The workshop enables participants the opportunity to obtain one-on-one coaching on specific System Dynamics modeling questions. Questions may relate to a System Dynamics model that you are thinking about, studying, or developing.  All levels of modeling background are welcome, from beginner to advanced.  Modeling questions may cover problem articulation, dynamic hypothesis development, model formulation, model testing, or policy design and evaluation.  Questions may also relate to something that you don’t understand in one of the System Dynamics textbooks or software packages. You might even get the author of the textbook or software as your coach!  Modelers will be matched with coaches based on interest.  If attending the conference live, there will be a set meeting time in the schedule.  If virtual, it will be up to both parties to be in touch and set up a time to “meet” via Zoom, Skype, or other means after the conference. 

This program is organized by Gary Hirsch and Rod MacDonald. 

Publishing Assistance Workshop

The Publishing Assistance Workshop is held during the annual conference and is designed to provide authors with guidance and expertise in the development of their manuscript for submission to an academic journal. Expert mentors will offer suggestions to authors in navigating the publishing process for research that includes system dynamics. To accommodate online delivery and resolve time zone challenges, the workshop will involve one-on-one Zoom meetings with an experienced faculty member that focus on providing each author with practical and developmental suggestions for improving their papers.

This program was developed and is administered by:

Shayne Gary is a Professor at UNSW Business School in Sydney. His research examines how differences in mental models, decision rules, and strategies lead to differences in firm performance over time. Shayne investigates these issues through experiments, in-depth fieldwork, and system dynamics simulation modeling. He was awarded the 2016 Jay Wright Forrester Award and is a Managing Editor of the System Dynamics Review. Shayne is a founding member of the Behavioral Strategy Interest Group in the Strategic Management Society and Chaired the Interest Group in 2015. He also consults widely with clients on systems thinking and modeling projects to develop strategies for firm growth, transformation, and mergers & acquisitions. Shayne received his PhD at London Business School and his BSc degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Rogelio Oliva is the Bob and Kelly Jordan Professor of Business in the Department of Information and Operations Management at the Mays Business School, Adjunct Professor at MIT’s Zaragoza Logistics Center, and Research Affiliate at MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. His research explores how behavioral and social aspects of an organization interact with its technical components to determine the firm’s operational performance. His current research interests include behavioral operations management, retail and service operations, and the transition that product manufacturers are making to become service providers. His research work has been published in several academic journals, among them: Management Science, Organization Science, Journal of Operations Management, California Management Review, and Production and Operations Management.

Become a Mentor

A mentor is a coach or a teacher.  They are experienced practitioners of systems thinking and System Dynamics give back by supporting students of the field.  They donate their time to the Society and typically commit to a long term relationship of support – months or even years.   Mentors may work with one or more students on a one-to-one basis or may support a peer mentoring group that can benefit from a member with more experience and skill.  Mentors typically spend 1 hour a week with each student.group.  Light preparation for each meeting is a ground rule with the onus on the student or peer mentoring group leader to arrange meetings, present their work, and ask questions.  In some cases, a mentor may take a deep dive and become much more involved in a mentee’s work – in one case a mentor became a co-author on a paper.  Mentorship support provided can be substantive and technical, focusing on the material presented and include digging into equations, but may also focus on suggestions for the process itself.  Reasonable advice might include reflecting on scope, urging a student to stop and write a paper, and even suggesting a student switch to other methods should System Dynamics not seem the best path for the mentee and their topic.  

Most mentor-mentee relationships will be remote, using email as well as videoconferencing software such as Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts, or the Society’s Slack account. 

We currently have more than 25 mentors available to provide support. Some are academics, others are practicing consultants.  They all have substantial experience and represent a diverse array of industries and functional areas.  They are from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. They are experienced with various types of SD software: Vensim, Stella/ithink, Powersim, and Anylogic.