Abstract for: Lots of Loops: Lessons from using System Dynamics for Complex Governmental Decisions

The US Government faces some of the biggest strategic challenges with very high stakes. When should we use military power and how do we use it to improve stability rather than worsen it? How should we manage a huge but limited budget to achieve a wide range of big, unstructured, and evolving strategic objectives? Can we help struggling regions develop and if so how? These questions involve highly complex systems with many dynamics over time. They have the further challenges of a lot of uncertainties, limited data, wide boundaries, many stakeholders, and the need for rapid decision-making. In an environment fraught with politics and skeptics, how can we use analysis to improve the rigor of decision-making on such big and important questions? The authors will use examples from the last 8 years of policy and decision analysis work to illustrate lessons both positive and painful for successful use in government and business, speaking from the perspectives of both modeler and decision-maker, inside and outside the government.