Archive for the ‘System Thinking’ Category

It’s Time for More System Dynamics

Friday, April 3rd, 2020
Beer Game Bullwhip Effect Causal Loop Diagram

During these extraordinary days, reading the news and observing the real-time data and responses from policymakers, I realized how valuable it would be to teach system dynamics in our schools and universities to understand the structural foundations and related variables in large complex problems.

Created by Forrester, system dynamics has its roots in control system theory but has been applied to complex problems in social science, economics, politics and business management. System dynamics plays an important role in helping decision-makers avoid suboptimal decisions, often referred to as policy resistance.

The concept is simple: When you introduce a disturbance into a natural system, it may initially be able to cope with stresses and shocks. However, over time the system may react to the disturbance – or exhibit policy resistance – which may seem counterintuitive because of the time delays associated with the reaction. Much of the art of system dynamics modeling is discovering and representing the feedback processes, which, along with stock-and-flow structures, causal-loop diagrams, time delays, and nonlinearities determine the dynamics of a system [Forrester, 1968; Saeed, 1982; Sterman, 2000].

The use of system dynamics helps overcome the limitations in people’s intuition about complex problems and their often logically incomplete mental models. The resulting insights are intended to help scientists, policymakers, the media and the public at large better understand complex multi-cause and multi-effect relationships.

System dynamics simulations can also help the population to understand problems, policies and implications over time, I think it would be a great tool in K-12 classrooms as well as in other professional fields. “Education has taught static snapshots of the real world. But the world’s problems are dynamic,” wrote Jay Forrester.

If you want to learn more about System Dynamics during the shelter-in-place order, the System Dynamic Society is collecting resources from members and others that provide a systems view on the COVID-19 pandemic, including a video from Tom Fiddaman exploring a simple epidemic model for a community confronting coronavirus.

Check also a couple of models I created in the past that related to today’s toilet paper bullwhip effect and how coronavirus threatens the seasonal farmworkers at the heart of the American food supply:

The Magicians of Big Data

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Beauty & Engineering met to shape a new era for the Internet. In this post I’ll talk about the beautiful side of engineering, and how creativity should be requirement #1 in any product development process, including the Internet of Things.

During my business education in Boston I was taking the HBS’s course Marketing and Innovation and the most important lesson I got was that ‘marketing is not about what you feel about a product but what a product makes you feel about yourself’.

After three intensive years executing product roadmaps in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley, I almost forgot that beauty is the final driver for people to embrace changes. We always require to product makers to include the desire functionality that make the product easy to use and reliable. Functionality is the key for a new product adoption in the market. However, customers are human beings. It is in our nature to get excited about extraordinary things such as atmospheric phenomenon, magic, music, art, stories, special visual effects and technology. We all know that there is a trick behind it, but what we really love is the way that magician, artists and designers create the beautiful illusion that distract us from the reality.

cesar eyeo eyeo festival

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a break. I asked in my company some personal time off, I bought a ticket to Minneapolis to attend the famous EyeoFestival (thanks Ali Almossawi for the suggestion). As a product designer and also oil painter in my free time, I felt the need to reconnect with the ‘real world’ and the art of creating beautiful things. What a better way that meeting more than 500 artists, musicians, creative coders and data designers.

eyeofestival 2014The festival itself was stunning: at the Walker Art Center theater we could attend presentations from practitioners who are shaping the way people understand reality. Cesar Hidalgo provided a great visualization on how communication technologies had influenced our perception of global leaders. His project Pantheon helps us to understand the process of global cultural development. We listened to Paola Antonelli who bravely set new definitions for contemporary art leading MoMA’s acquisition of video games. Sarah Williams presented a very exciting crowdsourcing project in Nairobi to document and build the very first city transportation map. I particularly enjoyed the presentation from Lauren McCarthy who illustrated the ability of technology to mediate social interaction. I’m still thinking about her thought-provoking approach to solve social identity and self-representation challenges using crowdsourcing experiments.

Rafael Maranon paintings

This festival opened my eyes. I’ve been painting since I was 8 years old and I always had special passion for art [see my painting collection]. However, I was shy to identify myself as an artist within the high tech industry. After sharing ideas and experiences with such talented people at Eyeofestival, who seamlessly combine engineering and art, I feel today proud to be both an artist & engineer.

Actually, I already started contributing in this space by sharing during the Eyeoefestival’s Show and Tell a project I’m working on weekends: Like-Art.com is a social ‘on/offline’ platform that allows people to like, share and save for later their favorite panting by ‘waving’ their hand over a sensor. I built this platform based on Raspberry Pi and Django in collaboration with a very talent student from Malaga University Antonio Sanchez.

eyeofestival rafael   eyeo likeart

This solution provides a lot of value for those who are tired of screen time and want to connect with the real world and real people using our primary communication tool: our emotions and gestures.

I really believe the world need to simplify technology interfaces to such extend that we reestablish the magic and the beauty in our lives…. One. Two. Three. Open your eyes now. (Snap finger)

Rafael Maranon
@rafaelmaranon

SDMs launch MIT Social Media Club

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

By Rafael Marañón-Abreu, SDM’10, and Azamat Abdymomunov, SDM’10. This article was published in the MIT SDM Pulse, Spring 2011

Editor’s note: Rafael Marañón-Abreu and Azamat Abdymomunov founded the MIT Social Media Club in September 2010. As of this writing, the club has 70 active members, including MIT students, faculty, and staff

MIT’s System Design and Management Program (SDM) has not only provided the advantages that we expected from a world-class program in engineering and management—it has also given us the opportunity tlearn about emerging technologies that can help people, corporations, and government work more effectively. Within this realm, social media stood out for us as an area worth further exploration.

Two members of SDM’s 2010 cohort, Rafael Marañón-Abreu, left, and Azamat Abdymomunov, teamed up to start the MIT Social Media Club

We cofounded the MIT Social Media Club to build connections with others at SDM and across the Institute and work collectively to understand the newest channels of communication—from communities such as Facebook and LinkedIn to blogs, Twitter feeds, and YouTube. As mid-career professionals returning to university, we believed that it was important to investigate social media and understand how to put them to work for individuals and organizations. We were surprised to learn that there was no social media club at MIT, so we decided to start one. We believed this could help us maximize our education and share past and present thoughts and experiences, while visualizing and creating our individual futures and simultaneously giving back to SDM and the MIT communities.

Founding the MIT Social Media Club was hard work, but applying many of the concepts we learned in our SDM courses helped us to execute this exciting startup. For example, our lessons from classes in system architecture, systems thinking, technology strategy, and project management helped us to look at how social media functions in the contemporary environment.

We discovered that social media is not only useful for job hunting, but can help us better understand the dynamics among talented people in an organization, as well as how learning teams are constituted and flourish. We believe it can offer a competitive advantage in global business, help governments reinvent themselves, and help academics expand and evolve their capacity for teaching and research.

In the MIT Social Media Club, we encourage our members—including PhD, master’s, and Sloan students, as well as others at MIT—to understand and get handson experience using social media tools and to explore how they can be used to close the gap between an organization’s senior leaders, front-line employees, partner companies, customers, and other stakeholders. In the same way, social media can be used to build bridges between faculty members and students, and among researchers from different universities and countries.

Already we have come up with a couple of frameworks that we used in teaching an Independent Activities Period course this past ESD.942 Social Media: Trust, Information Seeking & Systems Innovation in the Digital Age. January, ESD.942 Social Media: Trust, Information Seeking & Systems Innovation in the Digital Age. This class was sponsored by Dr. Joseph Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab, who led the first multidisciplinary research program created to understand the behavior of the 45+ population, including how the older population makes decisions using social media.

Although still very new, the MIT Social Media Club has held several successful events, including workshops on how to increase your digital footprint and how to use social media in a job search. This spring we’re planning a series of social media research tours, which will allow club members to visit different departments and labs at MIT and elsewhere to explore how social media are being used in the workplace.

Google & MIT Workshop on using social media in recruiting

We would like to extend an invitation to SDM industry partners to get involved. For more information, visit the MIT Social Media Club online at socialmedia.mit.edu

to shape the future of social networks

 


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