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What is System Dynamics?

The System Dynamics Approach

System Dynamics is a computer-aided approach for strategy and policy design.

The main goal is to help people make better decisions when confronted with complex, dynamic systems. The approach provides methods and tools to model and analyzes dynamic systems. Model results can be used to communicate essential findings to help everyone understand the system’s behavior. 

It uses simulation modeling based on feedback systems theory that complements systems thinking approaches. It applies to dynamic problems arising in complex social, managerial, economic, or ecological systems. It can be applied to social, managerial, economic, ecological, and physiological systems.

Feedback Thinking

Recognizing cause and effect in a system


From cause and effect to behavior

Levels and Rates

Building blocks for change over time

Modeling and Simulation

Using computation to show outcomes

Policy Design

Making better decisions based on analysis and understanding

The basic idea behind System Dynamics is that feedback loops capture the interactions between the system parts and how they lead to a certain overall pattern of behavior over time

System Dynamics is a branch of systems theory that includes model simulations to understand the dynamic behavior of complex systems as they change over time

Diagrams of the primary feedback loops in the system are often converted into computer simulations to model how changes in one part of the system may affect others and the overall pattern of development

Explore Some Models

Business Model

People Express Airlines was launched and a business legend took off. Yet it went bankrupt. This simulator gives teams the opportunity to find out what went wrong by ‘flying’ the company themselves.

Health Models

Free interactive tools that allow you to explore the implications of disease uncertainties including distribution of severity levels, adjust contact rates, and mortality.

Climate Change Model

Freely available policy simulation model. It gives everyone the chance to design their own scenarios to limit future global warming. 

From Systems Thinking to System Dynamics

Systems thinking is a way to describe and understand the causality and interrelations between variables within a system. System Dynamics quantifies the impact of those interactions.

Systems thinking is a causality-driven, holistic approach to describing the interactive relationships between components inside a system as well as influences from outside the system. Its background emerges from various fields including philosophy, sociology, organizational theory, and feedback thought.

System Dynamics complements systems thinking by quantifying interactions and develops a time-dependent view of how the system behaves. The approach focuses on building computer models that represent and simulate complex problems in which behavior changes. These models bring to light less visible relationships, dynamic complexity, delays, and unintended consequences of interactions.

See Yourself in System Dynamics!

Discover what the approach means

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Unleash the power of systems thinking in your organization


Apply System Dynamics to real world challenges


Create models that matter to support decision-making


Inspire students to think in systems and solve complex problems


Develop your skills and apply your knowledge in different fields

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