Abstract for: Operationalizing Systems Thinking and System Dynamics Principles, Methods, and Tools in Government Policy and Management

This paper addresses the 32nd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society theme of Good Governance in a Complex World—from global to village levels—with examples and lessons learned through the author’s application of systems thinking and system dynamics principles, methods, and tools in various settings. Four ‘vignettes’ are presented: (1) Strategic Planning in Honduras; (2) Sustainability Planning in Hawaii, (3) Development Project Evaluating in Guatemala, and (4) Rio+20: Global Sustainability Lessons Not Learned. The paper includes basic causal loop diagrams and stock and flow maps. … A premise of this paper is that both in spite of—and because of—the many relative advances in knowledge, communications, technology, and so on, during especially the past several hundred years, globally we are increasingly in a Titanic-after-it-has-struck-the-iceberg situation. It is argued that even when system dynamics has been successfully employed to help explain complex sustainability issues, such as limits to growth and causes and effects (causes) of climate change, and as an aid in identifying potential solution leverage points—the net result has generally been too little, too late relative to the increasing global unsustainability trends. Why? The paper’s conclusions and recommendations focus on this question.