1
System Dynamics Projects That Failed
to Make an Impact
by
Andreas Größler
Mannheim University, Germany
2
Abstract
• Purpose: discuss the phenomenon why some
system dynamics projects fail to generate
substantial impact in orga...
3
Problem
• System dynamics projects do not stop
with the identification of a new
strategy, with making a decision, or
wit...
4
Implementation
realisation enforcement
1.executives at an appropriate hierarchical
level actively support change process...
5
Two degrees of low-impact system
dynamics projects
• Grade 1: seemingly successful projects
with no changes in policies ...
6
Case study 1: Business cycles in
the airline industry (Liehr et al., 2001)
• Purpose of system dynamics project:
– insig...
7
Case study 2: Intranet
implementation (Schillinger et al., 2003)
• Quantitative
understanding of
update policies
• Spend...
8
Implications (Schein, 1999)
6
Evaluating
outcomes
4
Action planning
1
Problem
formulation
2
Producing
proposals
for solu...
9
• Liehr, M., A. Größler, M. Klein and P.M. Milling: ―Cycles in the Sky: Understanding
and Managing Business Cycles in th...
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Poster Failed SD Projects

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My poster from the 2006 International System Dynamics Conference, Nijmegen.

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Poster Failed SD Projects

  1. 1. 1 System Dynamics Projects That Failed to Make an Impact by Andreas Größler Mannheim University, Germany
  2. 2. 2 Abstract • Purpose: discuss the phenomenon why some system dynamics projects fail to generate substantial impact in organizations— despite the fact that they are based on an apparently valid system dynamics model and are conducted by experts in the field • Method: conceptual discussion, extended by two short case studies • Findings: the quality of the model and the expertise of the modeler are necessary, but not sufficient requirements for organizational impact
  3. 3. 3 Problem • System dynamics projects do not stop with the identification of a new strategy, with making a decision, or with designing new organizational structures and policies. Rather, these outcomes have to be implemented in the organization. • However, decentralization and empowerment have resulted in increased challenges for implementing change. New strategies can seldom be implemented only by formulating new guidelines or policies.
  4. 4. 4 Implementation realisation enforcement 1.executives at an appropriate hierarchical level actively support change process 2.a large number of employees understand why organisation must change as well as reasoning behind the change process to be implemented
  5. 5. 5 Two degrees of low-impact system dynamics projects • Grade 1: seemingly successful projects with no changes in policies or structures • Grade 2: seemingly successful projects that lead to immediate changes but no to a sustainable use of system dynamics.
  6. 6. 6 Case study 1: Business cycles in the airline industry (Liehr et al., 2001) • Purpose of system dynamics project: – insights into structure/dynamics of the cyclical movements; – developing a tool for the analysis of different scenarios; – testing alter- native policies for long-term capacity and fleet planning • Insights, but no changes in policies 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 1970 1980 1990 1998 Year Historical data Seats ordered Simulation run Seats ordered
  7. 7. 7 Case study 2: Intranet implementation (Schillinger et al., 2003) • Quantitative understanding of update policies • Spend more time on updating old content • Changed management policies, but no continuous use of system dynamics Old Content 200 100 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Time (Day) Old Content : base run no updating pages Content 60 30 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Time (Day) Content : base run no updating pages
  8. 8. 8 Implications (Schein, 1999) 6 Evaluating outcomes 4 Action planning 1 Problem formulation 2 Producing proposals for solutions 3 Forecasting consequences, testing proposals Felt need 5 Taking action steps It is not enough to state that implementation is the last step in a model development process  system dynamics as ―intervention architecture‖ (Zock, 2004)
  9. 9. 9 • Liehr, M., A. Größler, M. Klein and P.M. Milling: ―Cycles in the Sky: Understanding and Managing Business Cycles in the Airline Market‖, System Dynamics Review, Vol. 17, No. 4, 2001, pp. 311–332. • Schein, E.H.: Process Consultation Revisited – Building the Helping Relationship, Reading, Addison-Wesley, 1999. • Schillinger, K., A. Zock and A. Größler: ―Understanding the Dynamic Complexity of the Editorial Process for an Employee Portal‖, R.L. Eberlein et al. (eds.): Proceedings of the 21st International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, New York City. • Weill, H.B.: ―The Evolution of an Approach for Achieving Implemented Results from System Dynamics Projects‖, in Randers, J. (ed.): Elements of the System Dynamics Method, Cambridge, Productivity Press, 1980, pp. 271–291. • Zock, A.: ―A Critical Review of the Use of System Dynamics for Organizational Consultation Projects‖, in: Kennedy, M. et al. (eds.): Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference of the System Dynamics Society, Oxford, 2004. • Helpful comments and ideas from Birgitte Snabe are gratefully acknowledged. References and Acknowledgements

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