Abstract for:Descriptive System Dynamics Modeling: Using system dynamics modeling as a bridge between disciplines

“Model the problem, not the system” is a system dynamics mantra useful for many reasons, but in this paper we explore how this mindset limits professionals when they engage with academic disciplines that frame problem statements differently than system dynamicists typically do. For many fields unfamiliar with system dyanamics, the solutions to problems often involve describing entire systems of focus in order to map out domains of knowledge that depend on a careful description of system structure. We propose to use system dynamics modeling as a lingua franca that can integrate these currently disparate disciplinary approaches to problems in a way that will allow each to speak the same language. To operationalize this work, we suggest that the various models that emerge from these many disciplines share nodes of interaction, and we propose using these nodes of interaction to bring the discipline-specific models together into an operational structure. We understand that this will require a shift in our own system dynamics mindset to allow us to consider that “describing the system” may, in some cases, be roughly equivalent to “solving the problem.” This leads us to propose a new label: “descriptive system dynamics modeling," which we illustrate with a modeling example.