Abstract for:Insight as a framework for System Dynamics practice

One of the potential goals of system dynamics modeling is to develop insight about dynamic behavior.  The term dynamic insight in system dynamics refers to a deep understanding of the specific feedback structures that generate particular behavioral trends.  

In this presentation, I examine the concept of insight as it has developed in several fields, including cognitive psychology and philosophy, and propose that the framework of insight from these fields can enrich system dynamics practice.  Broadly, insight is described as deep intuitive understanding gained after a problem-solving impasse in which the application of a known approach does not work.  After some struggle to find a solution, a sudden restructuring of how one sees the problem, sometimes experienced as an “Aha!” moment, makes the solution instantly clear.  In system dynamics practice, this kind of tension  impasse  restructuring  insight can take place at multiple points in the problem analysis process, from problem definition to policy analysis.  Sometimes the insight is gained primarily by modelers, sometimes by clients, and sometimes by participants in group modeling.  

A system dynamics approach to problem-solving is fundamentally one that presents a way for modelers, clients, and participants to restructure the way we and they see dynamic problems.  Considering theories and frameworks of insight deliberately can help sharpen the focus of our work and suggests ways to more deliberately facilitate insight in system dynamics work.