Consulting to meet your organization’s needs
Our deep understanding of systems, the interconnections among variables, and how systems behave is based on our experience working on a wide range of issues and complex problems. The System Dynamics Society team and network of consultants with expertise in the systems thinking and System Dynamics field provide customized consulting services. Our consultants work closely with clients and stakeholders to develop personalized solutions, combining data collection, learning, strategy, and policy testing.
Our group facilitation methods create a safe space for sincere dialog about problems and challenges, allow for idea generation, and empower stakeholders to feel ownership over the solutions and implement the strategies that are developed. Our consulting services can help you develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of your organization and identify high leverage points for improving your organization’s success.
We also provide team-building exercises and training using simulation games and hands-on learning. Check out our Training Services page for more information.
Executive coaching provided by our network of expert consultants is designed to empower executives and leaders with the profound ability to navigate the complexities of dynamic systems within their organizations. Our approach is firmly rooted in the principles and methodologies of System Dynamics and systems thinking.
1. Personalized Coaching for Executives: Our coaching sessions are tailored to meet the unique needs of each executive. We delve into the intricacies of your organization’s dynamics, helping you comprehend feedback loops, time delays, and causal relationships that impact decision-making. Through personalized coaching, we equip you with the skills to address challenges and harness opportunities effectively.
2. Mastering Feedback Loops and Causal Relationships: Understanding the interconnectedness of elements within a system is crucial for effective leadership. Our coaching dives into the world of feedback loops, helping you recognize reinforcing and balancing feedback structures. With a solid grasp of causal relationships, you can proactively intervene to guide your organization toward desired outcomes.
3. Decision-Making in Dynamic Environments: Navigating the dynamic landscape of today’s business world demands adaptive decision-making. Our coaching hones your ability to model scenarios, simulate outcomes, and make informed choices by leveraging the insights from System Dynamics principles. You’ll be equipped to lead your organization through uncertainty and change.
4. Leadership in Times of Change: Change is inevitable, but leading through change requires finesse. Our coaching provides you with strategies to manage resistance, optimize change processes, and foster a culture of innovation. By applying System Dynamics concepts, you’ll be well-equipped to drive transformation while minimizing disruptions.
5. Long-Term Strategy Formulation: Crafting a resilient and effective long-term strategy requires a deep understanding of how various components interact over time. Our coaching guides you through the process of developing dynamic strategies that consider feedback loops, delays, non-linear effects, and unexpected consequences, ensuring your organization’s sustained success.
6. Enhancing Organizational Learning: System Dynamics emphasizes continuous learning and improvement. Our coaching helps you instill a culture of learning within your organization, utilizing systems thinking to adapt and refine strategies based on real-time insights. This iterative approach fosters agility and innovation.
7. Custom Workshops and Training: In addition to one-on-one coaching, we offer custom workshops and training sessions. These sessions provide your team with hands-on experience in applying System Dynamics concepts to real-world challenges.
We are committed to empowering leaders with the transformative insights of System Dynamics through coaching.
Target audience: varied, such as corporate teams, executives, and managers.
Format: Online coaching on an hourly basis.
Our network of expert consultants offers additional training services based on client requests. For example:
- Introductory training course in Systems Thinking
- Intermediate training course in Systems Thinking
- Introductory training course in System Dynamics Modeling
- Intermediate training course in System Dynamics Modeling
- Advanced training course in System Dynamics Modeling
Visit our Training Services page to learn more about the team training and simulation game workshop options available.
These trainings, workshops, and group facilitation sessions include:
- Group Juggle: An Introduction to Systems Thinking
- The Beer Game: A Supply Chain Game
- Fish Banks: A Natural Resources Management Game
- World Climate Simulation: A World Climate Negotiation
- Climate Action Simulation: A Climate Change Strategy Workshop
- ReThink Health: Simulation Workshop
Our Systems Mapping services encompass qualitative causal loop diagrams and participatory group model building. These powerful tools are designed to help you gain deep insights into complex systems, enabling you to make informed decisions and drive positive change.
Qualitative Causal Loop Diagrams: In a world characterized by intricate interconnections and interdependencies, understanding the dynamics of systems is crucial. Our consultants specialize in creating qualitative causal loop diagrams, a visual representation that unveils the cause-and-effect relationships within a system. These diagrams provide a holistic view of how various elements within a system interact, helping you identify feedback loops, reinforcing cycles, and balancing loops that shape the behavior of the system. By visually mapping out these relationships, we enable you to comprehend the underlying structure of your system and recognize key leverage points for intervention.
Participatory Group Model Building: Collaboration lies at the heart of effective problem-solving. Our participatory group model building process brings together diverse stakeholders and experts to collectively construct a qualitative model of a dynamic problem. By facilitating open discussions, brainstorming sessions, and consensus-building activities, we help your team co-create a shared understanding of the system’s complexities. This participatory approach fosters engagement and ownership among participants, ensuring that the resulting models reflect the collective wisdom and insights of your organization.
Our consulting process is tailored to your specific needs:
- Discovery: We begin by immersing ourselves in your organization’s context, goals, and challenges. Through interviews, data collection, and research, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the problems at hand.
- Systems Mapping: Using qualitative and participatory tools, we elicit the issues facing your organization to develop a causal loop diagram that illustrates the underlying dynamics of the system. This visual representation clarifies how different elements interact and influence each other.
- Participatory Workshops: We bring together key stakeholders and experts in participatory workshops. Through facilitated discussions and group model building sessions, we harness collective intelligence to refine and expand the causal loop diagram.
- Insight Generation: The collaborative process uncovers insights that might have been overlooked otherwise. We help you decipher patterns, feedback loops, and potential intervention points that can drive meaningful change.
- Actionable Strategies: Armed with a profound understanding of your system, you can formulate strategies and policies that address challenges effectively. Using the system map, your organization can identify leverage points and design policies and interventions based on the model. This process guides your decision-making, leading to impactful outcomes.
Target audience: varied, such as corporate teams, executives, and managers.
Time required: 2 days or longer as needed.
FASTBreak is a process for applying Systems Thinking theory and
tools to facilitate the development of a causal model of a dynamic system. The process is a collaborative approach that develops a big-picture representation of the perspectives of multiple stakeholders. This causal model represents the collective learning of the group and can be used for mental simulation or converted to a mathematical model for computer simulation. Through simulation, it can allow a group to test strategies under various scenarios. The process is designed to quickly identify a set of strategic interventions that will most effectively serve to achieve group goals.
FASTBreak is useful for:
- Capturing, exploring, and improving mental models to facilitate team learning.
- Building mutual understanding and shared vision.
- Resolving disputes.
- Generating and evaluating strategic options and scenarios.
- Developing high-leverage priorities and action steps.
Steps of FASTBreak:
1. Issue Identification
The first phase is a nominal group process utilizing Post-It hexagons that allows every person to be heard and requires everyone else to listen. With the right people in the room, this process can quickly
identify the big picture set of issues faced while condensing them down into a manageable handful for moving things forward. It can complement or replace more traditional interview processes, that are laborious and limit a group’s ability to build shared understanding.
2. Variable Identification and Behavior Charts
In the second phase, the group transitions to a more systemic understanding of the issue. This entails identifying key metrics or variables and then developing an understanding of how these metrics change over time. This stage provides a deeper understanding of the issues, focuses attention on those of greatest import, and serves to improve our dynamic understanding of the system.
Participants are engaged in the process that emphasizes visual tools like hexagons, behavior over time graphs, and causal loop diagrams to
quickly come to a shared understanding of the structure driving system behavior.
3. Structural Modeling
The group develops a map of the underlying causal structure that creates the dynamics of concern identified in the previous phase. This model is a rigorous picture of cause and effect that takes into account feedback relationships between variables. If resources permit, this can be converted into a computer simulation. This model represents the best thinking of the group and represents a consensus-building process in which the participants share their understanding and learn from others.
Using this approach, the Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) is a collaboratively built model of system structure that is used to identify systemic interventions and test strategies against uncertainties. The CLD becomes the focal point of conversation, which is used to identify
creative interventions and analytically test proposed strategic initiatives against various scenarios to see if they achieve desired goals
4. Policy & Strategy Testing
We use a variety of creativity techniques organized around knowledge of high-leverage systemic interventions and test them against the causal map to identify the most effective set of interventions. The focus is on expanding the group’s thinking beyond the traditional to find new, improved, high-leverage solutions.
5. Scenario Planning
Key uncertainties are identified and developed. These uncertainties are then simulated in the causal model to test the performance of selected strategies. The results are used to further refine selected strategies to make them robust against a number of possible futures.
6. Action Planning
FASTBreak empowers teams to collaboratively and systemically
unleash the power of organizational learning to make better decisions. We offer a blend of facilitated Systems Thinking interventions and training opportunities for your team in the application of this suite of powerful tools.
Time required: 2 days or more as needed.
Primary Benefits of FASTBreak:
- Team Building Leads to Increased Satisfaction
- Team Member Participation Increases Satisfaction
- Widespread Buy-In to Proposed Solutions
- Systems Thinking Identifies Root Causes & High Leverage Interventions
- Process Quickly Leads to Actionable Steps
- Development of a Shared Visual Language for Problem Solving
- Systems Thinking Knowledge Transfer
Our comprehensive System Modeling and Computer Simulation offerings are designed to empower your organization with advanced tools for understanding, analyzing, and optimizing complex systems.
System Modeling: In today’s intricate and interconnected world, gaining a deep understanding of the underlying dynamics of systems is crucial for making informed decisions. Our network of expert consultants specializes in System Dynamics, a methodology that allows us to construct comprehensive models of dynamic problems. By collaborating closely with your team, we capture the intricate relationships, feedback loops, and causal connections that drive the behavior of your system.
Our System Modeling process includes:
- Consultation and Discovery: We work closely with your organization to identify the key elements, variables, and objectives of the system. This initial consultation sets the foundation for the modeling process.
- Model Development: Using cutting-edge tools and techniques, we construct a detailed System Dynamics model that demonstrates the behavior of your system over time. These models serve as virtual representations of the real-world dynamics.
- Data Integration: Our models are informed by real-world data, ensuring their relevance. We integrate historical and current data to calibrate and validate the models, enhancing their simulation capabilities.
- Scenario Analysis: Modeling allows us to simulate various scenarios, providing insights into how changes in different variables can impact the system. This analysis helps you anticipate the consequences of decisions and formulate strategies accordingly.
Computer Simulation: Visualizing the behavior of complex systems in real time can be a game-changer. Our Computer Simulation services enable you to interact with dynamic models and gain intuitive insights into system behaviors, trends, and potential consequences.
Our Computer Simulation process involves:
- Model Integration: We integrate our System Dynamics models into sophisticated simulation software, creating a dynamic virtual environment where you can observe your system in action.
- Interactive Simulations: Using the simulation model, you can manipulate variables, test different scenarios, and observe how the system responds. This interactive experience fosters deep comprehension and facilitates decision-making.
- Insightful Analytics: Simulation models generate valuable analytics, such as performance metrics, trend analyses, and sensitivity studies. These insights guide your understanding of system behavior and support strategic planning.
- Decision Support: Armed with the knowledge derived from simulations, you can make well-informed decisions that account for the complexities and uncertainties inherent in your system.
Target audience: varied, such as corporate teams, executives, and managers.
Time required: Small models: 1-2 days to generate small model for learning purposes. Medium models: 2+ months. Large simulation models: 6 months or more.