Abstract for: System Dynamics Methods on a Shoe-String

Addressing wicked problems is often delegated to communities and non-profits operating on shoe-string budgets, often relying heavily on volunteers. Because of this distribution of resources, the set of theoretical, financial and technical resources available to front-line workers in developing solutions is persistently insufficient and contributes to problem complexity. This paper presents work applying basic system dynamics methods in just such resource-constrained problem-solving settings. Each project is a stand-alone analysis, addressing a mission-sensitive problem where decision-makers faced high uncertainties and resource constraints. The approaches employed vary based on need and available resources. More constrained resources indicated more simplified variants from standard approaches. These variants were based on group model building, simulation modeling and purposive text analysis. Findings indicate that high-leverage actions for addressing problems were identified across all settings. Policy outcomes observed to date indicate that models achieved a high level of fidelity to problems. Even very basic methods identified useful insights. These projects serve to demonstrate that system dynamics methodology can be adapted to environments where analysis is necessarily constrained by scarce resources.