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From Text to Map: A System Dynamics Bot for Constructing Causal Loop Diagrams

May, 15 at 11 am NY | 4 pm London | 11 pm Beijing | Time Converter

From Text to Map: A System Dynamics Bot for Constructing Causal Loop Diagrams

Join us to delve into the innovative System Dynamics Bot, a tool designed to automate causal loop diagram creation from text. Learn how it performs in converting text to maps, see practical examples, and understand the challenges and solutions in its development.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Gain insight into the capabilities of large language models in system dynamics and model building.
  • Understand the effectiveness of the System Dynamics Bot in identifying key relationships within textual data.
  • Discover the challenges encountered and solutions implemented during the development of this tool.

This webinar is ideal for system dynamics practitioners, data analysts, and anyone interested in the intersection of artificial intelligence and model building. Sign up to explore how this technology can streamline your modeling processes and enhance your understanding of complex systems.

About the Presenters

Niyousha Hosseinichimeh has a PhD and a master’s degree in public administration and policy from State University of New York at Albany, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Sharif University, Iran. She is currently an assistant professor at the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on developing and applying methods to improve health and healthcare systems. She uses simulation models to help stakeholders improve their understanding and decision making in complex dynamic systems. She has applied system dynamics approach to diverse health issues including infant mortality, mental health, and alcohol impaired driving among teens. Her methodological contributions include expanding calibration methods for dynamic models and developing techniques for system dynamics group model building. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Ohio State Department of Health, and Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

 

How Did En-ROADS Get 755,000 users? Lessons on Modeling, Interface Design, and Facilitation

May, 8 at 11 am NY | 4 pm London | 11 pm Beijing | Time Converter

How Did En-ROADS Get 755,000 Users? Lessons on Modeling, Interface Design, and Facilitation

In this participatory webinar, Drew Jones of Climate Interactive will share insights on how to create a System Dynamics model and online simulator that will succeed at improving mental models and system performance at scale. The teams at Climate Interactive, MIT Sloan, and Ventana Systems designed its System Dynamics models C-ROADS and En-ROADS with the goal of improving the understanding of climate policy choices amongst decision-makers around the world, leading to deliberate strategies in three major areas: 1) modeling, 2) interface/UX design, and 3) facilitation, workshop design, game creation, training, and user support. This webinar will cover the design decisions made over the ~30 years of the project, generalizing the more universal insights for any system dynamics project.

About the Presenter

Andrew (Drew) Jones is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Climate Interactive. An expert on international climate and energy issues, his quotes and data stories appear in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and other media. Jones and his team at CI and MIT Sloan developed the climate simulations used by John Kerry and others to secure the 2014 bi-lateral U.S.-China deal that set up the Paris Agreement, as well as currently in the White House and Congress. Trained in System Dynamics modeling at Dartmouth College and MIT, Jones has worked at Rocky Mountain Institute and was a protégé of Dana Meadows. Jones co-accepted the System Dynamics Society’s award for the best real-world application of modeling. He won Dartmouth College’s Ray W. Smith award for the most significant contribution to the status of the College.

Special Guests

John D. Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Director of MIT’s System Dynamics Group. He is the author of many scholarly and popular articles on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, including the book Modeling for Organizational Learning, and the award-winning textbook Business Dynamics. Prof. Sterman’s research centers on improving decision making in complex systems, focusing on environmental sustainability, climate change, alternative fuel vehicles and process improvement in organizations.  He pioneered the development of “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems, many of which, including the C-ROADS interactive climate policy simulation he helped developed, are used around the world by governments, businesses, universities and the public. Among his honors, Sterman is the recipient of an honorary doctorate, has twice been awarded the Jay W. Forrester Prize for the best published work in system dynamics, received the best application award from the System Dynamics Society, was named one of MIT Sloan’s “Outstanding Faculty” by the BusinessWeek Guide to the Best Business Schools, and has received seven awards for teaching excellence from the students at MIT.

Florian Kapmeier is Professor of Strategy at ESB Business School at Reutlingen University, Germany. He received his doctorate from the University of Stuttgart on “Interorganizational Learning in Learning Alliances”. He has strengthened his academic profile with research visits at MIT Sloan School of Management (Cambridge, USA), McGill University (Montréal, Canada), University of Lugano (Switzerland), and Emlyon Business School (Lyon, France). For his research and teaching activities, he links the System Dynamics methodology with empirical research on theory development and testing, focusing on organizational aspects of the understanding of complexity, increasingly addressing environmental sustainability issues. He works closely with the Climate Interactive to raise awareness of the consequences of climate change, using the suite of Climate Interactive’s simulation models. Florian has collaborated closely with Climate Interactive to develop the En-ROADS Climate Workshop, the Climate Action Simulation Game, and resources for the World Climate Simulation. In addition, he has helped translate both event materials and website resources for the World Climate Simulation. Florian has facilitated numerous En-ROADS and World Climate events with groups between 12-60+ people since 2014, from high-school and university students to corporate and political policy makers.

 

Top 10 Tips to Engage People with a System Dynamics Model

Top 10 Tips to Engage People with a System Dynamics Model

Andrew P. Jones is Co-Founder and Co-Director of Climate Interactive and a Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan. Andrew is an expert on climate change and energy issues, a prominent System Dynamics modeler, and a keynote speaker.

In his webinar with System Dynamics Society, Jones presented his 10+1 tips to engage people with a System Dynamics model. Here’s a summary of the tips, but you can watch the recording below for all details!

All Seminar Series are free for members of the Society. Join us today and unlock all benefits!

1. Make it a challenging adventure on their terms in your virtual world
Make your model playful to entice curiosity about what it tests. This is a virtual world where people will experience something new. The challenging adventure or game is what we do mostly with the interface of the model. If you open the En-ROADS interface, you will see two main graphs, the main output, and several sliders. When playing with the sliders, your changes will be reflected in the graphs. Avoid telling people: “I’m going to show you how to do this”, instead, try saying: “On your terms, you’re going to have to figure out how to get that graph down to your target line”

“We do NOT model systems. We model problems.

2. Focus on mental models you want to improve
We do NOT model systems. We model problems. In System Dynamics, we define a problem as a behavior over time, a reference mode that we’re curious about why does it behave like that. We’re so curious about the problem that we develop a simulation to understand it. We build interfaces to improve the mental models of the stakeholders or clients. System Dynamics modelers know that mostly the mental models of decision-makers don’t match with the real world and how the actual system behaves. We don’t build interfaces to give access to policy levers in the system, but we are trying to leverage the necessary mental model improvements.

3. Make participants mentally simulate before running a scenario
If people don’t have a theory, they don’t notice the mental model they use to forecast what’s going to happen. Then they don’t get to learn and improve their understanding. Therefore, you must encourage people to anticipate, based on their own theories, what’s going to happen when running a scenario. No theory, no learning.” (Edward Deming)

“Tell people what to look at, let them guess what they are going to see, and then make it exciting like a movie”

4. Create a dynamic visual experience
Humans like to see change and it is important to employ this fact to get people to run and look at your graphs without losing their focus. Make people think and anticipate and then direct their eyes to what you want them to notice. If you do this well, you don’t even need to draw a Causal Loop Diagram because they are drawing it in their heads. Tell people what to look at, let them guess what they are going to see, and then make it exciting like a movie.

5. Set up participants to talk with each other
People learn socially and with hot-button issues like climate change, they need to know that their friends are not going to hate them if they change their minds. You need people to be processing the information collectively and socially with others. When presenting your model, stop frequently and advise: “Turn to the person next to you and discuss what you think of that conclusion”.

“Keep the discussion on improving system performance not on the tool you’re using”

6. Know along the way that you are playing at least seven roles

Try to present your model with the help of, at least, another person. Ideally, you need someone to facilitate the discussion while another runs the model. As a facilitator, you will be playing four roles including:

Coach – Helping participants to extract insights out of the model.
Professor – Teaching the audience theories and sharing factual information
Playwright – Creating an emotional journey of ups and downs.
Fellow Traveler – Being authentic, vulnerable, and just another person trying to solve a complex problem. If it is worth making a model about, it’s very important. If it is very important, you must deeply care about it.

You want the conversation to be around how to solve a complex problem together and what your audience is going to do about it. Keep the discussion on improving system performance not on “oh that’s a cool model how did you make that”. That’s all side information.

You want to minimize your roles in:
Tech – you must keep the conversation on improving the system performance, not the way or tool you have used to develop the model or create the graphs
Advocate – when people disagree with you, your job is not to fight them or disagree with them back, but to set up others to find the voice of your work.
Defender – Don’t get involved in the fight of “YOU HAVE A BAD MODEL!”. Avoid this fight as much as you can.

Read the article “Teamwork in Group Model Building” on the System Dynamics Review for more insights on strategies for efficient and effective model building in groups.

7. Build confidence and share testing as needed

You can share your tests and comparisons to other models and/or predictions to build stronger confidence. For instance, Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan built the En-ROADS with the best science available, using the data sources such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and International Energy Agency. All the assumptions are available open-source in the 400-page reference guide. Many of the assumptions that someone might not believe in are changeable within the model. Several models do not have good literature of other scenarios to compare against, while En-ROADS can be compared with six integrated assessment models to build confidence.

8. Use loops and stock/flow diagrams only to illuminate
As you help people improve their intuition, sometimes you need to use loops and stock/flow diagrams, especially if you are presenting to a more technical audience but always connect it to the simulator. Avoid showing this to policymakers, they are usually not interested in the loops, instead, tell a story about reinforcing or balancing feedback.

9. Make space for feelings and processing

Deliver your presentation with excitement and intensity, but you need to slam on the brakes and let participants compromise with their feelings and do the necessary processing. You may create a scenario of success, and they get to create their vision, something that they would love to see. And it’s time to slam on the brakes and may invite them to 60 seconds of silence. Yes! It is weird but imagine 60 seconds of silence of people sitting with a scenario of success.

“Create the conditions where people are open to changing their minds”

10. Pay attention to three legs of the learning stool
Reflective Conversation – Create the conditions where people are open to changing their minds, surfacing and testing assumptions, and talking to their peers about improving their assumptions. You’ve got to make the space where people are open to being wrong and thinking differently.

Vision – Help people see a future that they fall in love with they just want it so badly that they see the gap between the vision they want and the reality that they feel and experience that tension in between. Orient towards what one genuinely cares about.

Systems Thinking – Explaining how a complex system works where time, cause, and effect are distant in time and space can be difficult, especially when you include stocks, flows, feedback loops, and other inner relationships. You can learn how to facilitate a training that uses systems thinking and System Dynamics for free with Climate Interactive learning resources

10 + 1. Give them the simulator

People need your help as a facilitator, but you must give them something to play with that naturally gives them the mental model improvements that you want and guides them towards committing themselves to action to improve system performance. As Buckminster Fuller states “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

Watch the recording below

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Practitioner Profile: Drew Jones, Climate Interactive

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Welcome to Practitioner Profiles, a series of up-close blog-length interviews with experienced System Dynamics practitioners.  We have a standard set of 10 questions and let practitioners take the responses in any direction they choose.  They tell us about who they are, how they got involved with the field, how they work with clients, and in what new directions they may be heading.  A new profile will be posted every few weeks during 2021. 

For any questions or comments, please contact the editors of these interviews, Dr. Jack Homer (jack@homerconsulting.com) and Dr. Saras Chung (saras@skipdesigned.com). 

For today’s spotlight, we talked with Drew Jones, Co-Director of Climate Interactive.

What kinds of System Dynamics work does Climate Interactive do?

We developed the C-ROADS and En-ROADS simulation models with our partners at MIT and Ventana Systems to improve policy on climate and climate-related equity around the world.  Our products are of three types: user-friendly simulators; presentations and reports on our own analyses; and mind-blowing simulation-based games and workshops.

What is distinctive in your approach?  

We pay particularly close attention to the user experience of our online simulations — they are the first step in building the capacity of thousands of global partners to drive change using our tools. 

What is your role at Climate Interactive?

I’m co-founder and co-director of CI, which is a team of 16 staff and 12 primary contractors.  I direct and contribute to the modeling but am no longer involved in writing equations. 

What decisions do you have to make about the simulators and workshops?

When I’m preparing to engage a group with a SD model, I ask myself: What are the conditions and experiences we need to create so that the engagement will succeed?  This starts, of course, with having the right focus, level of aggregation, boundary, and structure of the model.  But also:  What should the interface look like? How can we help people get engaged with the simulator?   

How did you originally get interested in SD, and when was that?

I was introduced to SD by Dana Meadows in 1988, when I was a student at Dartmouth College. 

What individuals and organizations are inspirations to you?

I have had memorable experiences with many “SD heroes” and mentors over the years, and they have influenced my own approach.  In 1989, I saw Steve Peterson and Barry Richmond capture system structure with causal language and rigorous precision.  A few years later, I saw Dana Meadows during her Beyond the Limits book tour presenting World3 scenarios, moving fluidly from model dynamics to heart-filled empathy, to defiant challenging, and then back again to model dynamics.   After that, as a participant in Dennis Meadows’ Fishbanks game, I saw how his mischievous facilitation could bring people’s sometimes irrational assumptions and behavior to the surface.  Then, in the late 1990s, I watched John Sterman thrill a huge auditorium of students, asking the perfect questions to build a 20-loop causal diagram interactively in real time.  Also, I recall, around 2000, seeing Peter Senge showing deep respect for the current mental models of his audience, putting them in the right frame of mind to learn something new.   A final experience that influenced me was watching Jim Hines use levity and humor, not just for entertainment, but also as a way to welcome participants into a playful, virtual “what if” world of one’s model.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

The Obama Administration used C-ROADS to achieve its 2014 US-China bilateral climate agreement that set up the Paris Agreement.  Also, we have seen ever-growing use of the simulators all over the world – 1,499 certified facilitators have reached 121,484 people.  Many legislators in the US Congress have experienced the simulators, and high-ups in the Biden Administration have seen and worked with them.  

What kinds of work would you like to be doing over the next 5 years?

I’d like for us to help drive global greenhouse gas emissions down instead of up.

 

If you have any additional questions or comments, leave a note below! Otherwise, find Drew at www.climateinteractive.org

 

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