A few words from the father of system dynamics on organizational decision making, human frailty and the reasons that managers trying to solve problems so often just make them worse.
ay Forrester, professor emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management
Image courtesy of Melanie Stetson Freeman.
You’ve already looked at the photograph here, so you already know that Jay Forrester must have seen some things. But the legions who’ve built on Forrester’s work would be quick to tell you that it’s not how many things Forrester has seen, but how he’s seen them, that counts. He’s seen them as the most intricate and interactive of puzzles.
The leading question
How does a renowned “systems” thinker look at the challenges of sustainability?
The biggest challenge facing leaders: how to manage a successful nongrowing company.
The biggest problem with how sustainability is being addressed is that we’re treating symptoms, not causes — the same as in most attempts by managers to solve problems.
The downturn will likely push real sustainability issues to the rear.
Forrester is famously the originator of the field of system dynamics. It’s helpful (not entirely accurate, but helpful) to think of the approach as an extremely grown-up version of the popular computer game SimCity. Here’s Forrester’s description: “System dynamics deals with how the structure of a system and its information flows determine behavior — the control of growth, stability, decay, success and failure.