Abstract for: First Four Years: A Case Study of Starting a Social System Design Lab

There have been relatively few accounts in the literature about the start of organizations dedicated to applying system dynamics. This paper tells the story of the first four years of a university based social system design lab inspired in part by Jay Forrester’s 2007 plenary talk at the International System Dynamics Conference. The paper recounts some of the history and environment leading up to the founding, presents the initial strategic dilemma in the form of a system dynamics diagram along with the proposed strategy, and reviews the results after the first four years. Central to the story is the use of system dynamics and lessons from system dynamics on the challenges of managing growth including some of the pressures from going against conventional wisdom in an organization.