Friday, January 25, 2013

Four Priciples that May be Helpful to Those Seeking to Build and Use Dynamics Systems Models as Policy Aids

For the second Spring term in succession I am teaching “Dynamic Modeling of Public Policy Systems” at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.   This is a course in system dynamics modeling.  It is an approach to addressing problems of public policy (and other problems too) by simulating them.  Much to my surprise there are 37 students registered for the course, with an additional seven auditors.  The other night, as I was thinking about the course, principles came to me that, if followed, would be helpful to those seeking to build, use and communicate about these models.  The principles are these. 

  1. Not all problems lend themselves to system dynamics modeling.
  2. Not all problems that lend themselves to system dynamics modeling should be undertaken by students as their first independent modeling project.
  3. It is easier to make a simple model more complex than to simplify a complex one
  4. In working with policy makers, communicating lessons learned from the model is more important than communicating about the model.

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