Category Archives: News

2022 Annual Mike Jackson Lecture on Systems Thinking

Category : Events , News

The Fifth Discipline:
Making the Future a Friendly Place for Humankind

Dr Peter Senge

The Centre for Systems Studies, 5/4/22

The Centre for Systems Studies is delighted to announce the 2022 Annual Mike Jackson Lecture on Systems Thinking, which will be delivered by Dr Peter Senge, the internationally acclaimed thought leader, named by the Financial Times as one of The World’s Top Management Gurus.

Read more and sign up

Hospital Congestion using System Dynamics – Eric Wolstenholme

Category : News , Presentation

Recently, Eric Wolstenholme gave a talk to the Health Special Interest Group of the System Dynamics Society exploring hospital congestion using system dynamics. In this talk, Eric outlines his current thinking on systems archetypes in the context of hospital congestion.

The talk is described as an exploration of cascaded and interlocking archetypes using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative system dynamics and a mix of theory and practice.

This talk will be of broad interest to system dynamicists and other modellers. It is available on the System Dynamics YouTube channel:

In addition, Eric has provided a synopsis of the Stella Architect story used in the presentation. Available at isee exchange: Further details are below.

Eric Wolstenholme was one of the pioneers of System Dynamics in the UK. He is a past President of the International System Dynamics Society and the UK Chapter; and received the Jay Wright Forrester Award in 2004 for his seminal work on generic system archetypes. He received the Outstanding Contribution Award from the UK SD chapter in 2019.

Ways of telling stories about Hospital Congestion

An exploration of cascaded and interlocking archetypes

In Eric’s own words:

On the back of numerous modelling studies around delayed hospital discharges in the UK, I have been exploring different ways of communicating the messy issue of hospital congestion. The communication problem arises from the complexity of both the number of coping strategies used by hospitals and the number of unintended consequences of each strategy. So, single causal maps become a bit impenetrable.

My first attempt involved showing both hospital coping strategies and their unintended consequences on stock flow maps (*). I then tried using individual system archetypes to describe the unintended consequences of each coping strategy (**). My latest attempt involves using generic archetypes (***) in tandem. I have named these ‘cascaded archetypes’, where the unintended consequence of one archetype becomes the driver for the next. The approach introduces each archetype in turn within an overall story. The pattern of each archetype (opportunity/threat-action-unintended consequence) provides structure and simplicity. Cascaded archetypes must always feedback on one another if they are part of the same system, so some interesting choices must be made between keeping each free-standing whilst showing important interlocking between archetypes. 

The presentation overviews my alternative approaches for describing hospital congestion and postulates a generic template for cascaded/interlocking archetypes. Please be prepared to try out the method on your own issues, particularly where unintended consequences are tackled by different stakeholders in different systems and where there might be all four of my generic archetypes (***) involved. The presentation is in Stella Architect and I have placed this on the isee systems exchange (see link below) so group members can access this now or later. (The story can be followed by pressing the space bar or pressing the buttons – at the end of each section or along the top of the screen.)


 *Wolstenholme, E. F., Arnold, S., Monk, D., Todd, D., & McKelvie, D. (2005). Coping but not coping in health and social care—masking the reality of running organisations well beyond safe design capacity. Systems Dynamics Review, 23(4), 371–389.

** Wolstenholme and McKelvie, The Dynamics of Care, Chapter 10. Springer 2019

*** Wolstenholme, E. F., Towards the definition and use of a core set of archetypal structures in system dynamics, System Dynamics Review, Vol. 19, No. 1 Spring, 2003.

2022 Annual Conference – Bookings Open

Category : Conference , News

Thursday April 21st– Friday April 22nd

Strathclyde University


Bookings are now open for our annual conference, which this year is at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, April 21-22. The programme will include plenary presentations on System Dynamics in Healthcare, and on Service Design. There will be student presentations, posters, workshops and a round table discussion. The Thursday sessions will also be available online for those who cannot attend in person.

Early bird prices available throughout February

Reduced prices are available for students and retired people. Separate prices for single day sessions and virtual participation on the Thursday.

Just starting System Dynamics or need a refresher? Book for the Thursday morning workshop Getting Started SD

Updates will be posted on the Conference web page.

Earl of Wessex Future Energy Conference – Monday 15 November 2021

Category : Conference , News , Students

The Worshipful Company of Fuellers are excited to announce the second Earl of Wessex Conference, to be held on 15th November at the prestigious Royal College of Physicians, Regent’s Park.

Any UK young researchers or practitioners who are conducting SD work in the broad area of “Future Energy” such as the issues influencing our journey to a sustainable future; including what incentives are required in order to achieve Net Zero as well as the impact of novel technologies etc. please find the Earl of Wessex Future Energy Conference 2021 Competition Invitation. Further details at the at the website of the Worshipful Company of Fuellers.

10th Simulation Workshop – Online – 22 to 26 March 2021

Category : News

The Operational Research Society’s flagship simulation event is taking place online on 22nd to 26th March 2021. The workshop has a packed schedule of speakers, panels, tutorials bringing the latest news and break throughs in System Dynamics, Discrete Event Simulation and Agent Based Modelling.

The event includes:

  • Two high-profile international keynote speakers
  • Lively panel discussions with subject experts
  • Technical sessions
  • The latest research on COVID-19 simulations, artificial intelligence, conceptual modelling, crowd control and data farming
  • A wide range of tutorial sessions, including a tutorial from Brian Dangerfield, winner of the UK Chapter’s 2018 Outstanding Contribution Award
  • Two daily networking sessions to connect with peers
  • Poster lightning talks
  • Interactive sessions available to watch again after the event

More details here

2021 Winter Newsletter

2021 Annual Conference May 26th

This years’s annual conference will be a one-day online meeting. It will include presentations from invited speakers and student work. There will also be opportunities for participants to present posters. A “Getting Started with System Dynamics” workshop will run on the evening of the 25th.

Check out the updates at our website conference page and student colloquium page.

System Dynamics Helps to Tackle COVID

The COVID pandemic has provided an opportunity for those in the System Dynamics community to apply their skills.  Whilst there may be general lessons from the pandemic about the wider use of modelling the suitability of SD in such a situation is clear.  The dynamic nature of the situation and the need to be build and refine models at pace and sometimes in the absence, or in advance or hard facts, lends itself to SD.  One such example has been the work undertaken in the Kent & Medway system by the Whole Systems Partnership.  Read more …

Success Stories

Are you a system dynamics practitioner? Or have you used system dynamics in a project? Do you have a success story to tell? 

System Dynamics has been used successfully in a wide range of situations, in efforts that range from a few days’ work up to very large projects. All kinds of organisation have benefited, including businesses, Government departments and voluntary groups. We are keen to highlight more such cases, so if you have a story you would like to tell, please consider submitting it for inclusions in our success stories. Please visit our success stories webpage

System Dynamics Helps to Tackle COVID

Category : News , Recent , Success Stories

Every system dynamics modeller likes an output that tells a story, and when this matches closely to what’s actually happening there’s an additional sense of satisfaction, and confidence in the forecasts that the model generates.  The simple blue line in the illustration below has been generated by an SD model that has been constantly refreshed for the Kent & Medway system since March last year.  It is based on a standard SIR structure with stocks of Susceptible, Infected and Recovered people that flow through the system based on infection rates and the timing between infection, symptoms emerging and any subsequent needs for service interventions.  

The model factors in underlying demographics, national lockdowns, Tiered restrictions, new variants, school opening and Christmas festivities followed by the new Lockdown in England that started on the 4thJanuary.  And it matches the actuals!  It then goes on to estimate the impact on hospital admissions, bed capacity, deaths management and discharge planning.  And because it is fundamentally a population health model it is contributing to our understanding of the impact of COVID on subsequent health needs including Long-COVID and associated Mental Health challenges.

The system dynamic model’s ability to factor in the new COVID variant has been recognised as critical to understanding the Autumn and early Winter surge in cases and subsequent pressure on the health and care system.  It has also been informative as to when, at what levels and under what circumstances this surge would run out of steam – the inevitable balancing loops that put the brakes on otherwise exponentially increases cause by reinforcing loops.  This is illustrated in the diagram where the opportunity and ability of the virus to spread during the Autumn brings about a strong reinforcing cycle that even the November lockdown fails to do more than dent.  The more strict lockdown from the 5thJanuary does turn things around, but we retain the risk of a resurgence given the remaining susceptible population despite the progress of the vaccination programme.

The success of the model in helping people to understand the impact of the new COVID variant in the Kent & Medway system has led to the underlying epidemiological outputs now being developed to inform plans for COVID-19 demand and capacity requirements in the NHS across the South East Region of England. 

Peter Lacey, Director, Whole Systems Partnership

This project is part of our system dynamics success stories in the uk.

A Vaccine Roll-Out Planning Model

Category : News

An announcement from Strategy Dynamics

Combatting COVID-19 has moved on. Now is the pleasant task of planning to roll out the vaccines! Thousands of analysts are struggling right now to solve this with spreadsheets, but this is another local challenge best-handled with a dynamic model, like the one offered by Strategy Dynamics at This demo explains the purpose of the local COVID-19 vaccine roll-out model and how it works.  Give it a try and share it with anyone who could use it

Kim Warren (Strategy Dynamics)

4 Week Competition for Young People

Category : News , Students

Just launched! … a 4-week competition – yes, with prizes! – for any upper-school or University teams to answer for their chosen area – city, town, region –  “Lockdown-2 – how deep, how long?” 

Teams will follow the simple classes in the COVID-19 modelling course then use the localisable COVID-19 model to explain how the outbreak has progressed in their area, assess the impact lockdown-2 needs to have on contact-rates, then estimate how the outbreak may progress from there – trying to avoid a 3rd wave.

Everything is explained and linked-to in the article at

Covid 19 Localisation Modelling – Background

In March in response to what seemed to be a big gap in the Government’s strategy.  We founded The Covid 19 Localisation Modelling.  We are a volunteer organisation  with about 100 contributors with multidisciplinary expertise.   We have created this course so young people can learn about Covid 19 and how to manage it in Local areas.  We believe it is very important to get young people involved so we created a free online course to teach young people how to model the outbreak in local areas.   Localisation is very important because living conditions and the progress of the viral outbreak are very different in every neighbourhood:   St Johns Wood vs Hackney;  Finchley is vs Chelsea;  Ealing vs Marylebone — all different.  And that extends across the UK:  Bristol vs Manchester; Birmingham vs York, Brighton vs Hull, etc — all different.   Because of this we believe each local can reap big benefits from having its own localised strategy.  

The complication is while Government can declare lockdowns, the effectiveness is only as good as the compliance and here in the UK compliance is, well, bad.   The most difficult cases are areas where people simply do not have the resources to stick to lockdowns, that is genuinely tragic because as we have seen the BAME communities have been most affected, partly because of the need to keep generating income and this puts them in harm’s way.   Less upsetting but equally difficult is, frankly, people are getting weary of lockdowns and all the restrictions, especially young people.   We have analysed this in detail in dozens of locations including London and young people circulating more freely is a major contributor to why we have surge in cases now and why we are in a lockdown.

What can be done about this?   We believe engaging young people in the debate and the analysis instead of just dictating to them.  The evidence is this is a very powerful lever for positive change: we have seen it happen.   We have been working constantly on an initiative to help young people understand what is happening with Covid 19 in local areas and have had much success internationally.   

  • We are working with 3 student interns at MIT in Cambridge Ma USA through the MISTI and IAP programs.  They are currently evaluating Covid 19 management plans and the issue of coordinating term schedules with other universities using the migration structures in our model.  They will be working on scale up and AI/Machine Learning later.
  • A group of University students in Mumbai just published this article under our guidance
  • We are presenting at a career development panel for Gather, the alumni network for Junior Achievement on Thursday (Junior Achievement have 100million members)
  • We have been working with other students in Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Greece, Dominican Republic, Haiti and many cities in the USA.

A notable exception has been in the UK.   Although are engaged extensively with the NHS Analyst community and we have worked with a handful of students here in the UK we have not succeeded in scaling up the way we think would really make a big difference.

We want to try to change that so we have launched a UK Covid 19 Lockdown challenge for young people last weekend.   The competition runs for 4 weeks in step with the lockdown and will be judged by a panel of experts.  Prizes are being awarded for the best analysis in two age groups:  Secondary school age and post-Secondary School age up to 24.

The Local-COVID-Course and Model

Category : News

A team of simulation modellers, supported by disease experts, has created an easy-to-use model of COVID-19 outbreaks. It can be ‘localised’ to any defined region, to answer basic questions:

What is happening around here

How might the outbreak play out?

How can the future be best-managed?  

The developers want to ‘democratise’ COVID policy by putting this model in the hands of millions of citizens, especially young people, so that anyone can answer those questions. A short online course at 

designed by young people who actually used the model for their communities – explains basic epidemic principles and how to use the model. Please take a look and if you think it could be useful, please share it, tweet it, Facebook it … 

 The model (at

relies on published research evidence, 

has been matched to models used by Governments, 

has been calibrated to a wide range of localities –

from cities like Jakarta and New York to smaller towns to city-slums and their surrounding regions. 

is totally transparent – every item is shown as time charts and every element can be seen and checked.

The developers are working with Foundations, NGOs, Healthcare Organisations, Governments and Commercial organisations to complement other pandemic-strategy efforts and understand issues relating to local areas that national models can’t address. 

The course and model are free for personal use. For any commercial need, please contact

Thank you : Kim Warren and Maurice Glucksman

Tel:+44 7802 485869 | LinkedIn profile

The local-COVID-course and model
Dynamic modeling course | Sheetless modeling software | YouTube Channel

Join The UK Chapter

I agree to receiving occasional emails from the UK Chapter of the SD Society.