Feedback from the 9th South African System Dynamics Conference

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Message from Dr Nalini Sooknanan Pillay, Past President of the South African Chapter of the
System Dynamics Society

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented changes to the environment in which we now work, how we carry out professional meetings, and the way in which we host events like conferences and workshops; enabled by technological platforms such as video conferencing and various other virtual participatory tools. One of the underlying drivers to ensuring successful outcomes in a virtual environment flanked by evolving business models is the affinity and passion of participants to share their knowledge, experience and expertise. I believe we have seen this in all of our presentations at our 9th South African System Dynamics Conference which we held on the 18th November. The conference proved that our community of systems thinkers and system dynamicists were not deterred by the new world of work and used the opportunity to network, showcase excellent research in their respective areas, and harness experiential and tacit knowledge within the modelling community. 

We had a range of research areas with results being presented on energy security, power generating operational problems and the complexities around achieving a circular economy. Various papers were also presented on the methodological side such as shifts from econometrics to system dynamics; as well as the application of tools such as system archetypes. It will be many years before we are past the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and expectedly our conference submissions also included the impact of the virus on mental health. Our keynote speakers were Dr Louis van der Merwe (CILnet) and Rebecca Niles (International System Dynamics Society). Dr van der Merwe presented on his resilience strategy hierarchy and key enabling processes for leadership. Rebecca provided insights into the successes and challenges experienced by the Society in promoting system dynamics skills development globally.

Our workshop held by on the 19th November, was also wrought with excitement as our facilitators, Dr Andries Botha and Corne du Plooy, rewrote the history books by going through the process of bounding the problem, making assumptions, finding the starting point, building the “ideal model”, adding the factors that mess it all up and jointly seeing complexity emerging from a simple starting point, live and interactively!

Thank you to each and every one of you who made this conference a resounding success! We hope to see you at next year’s conference which will mark a decade since we launched the first system dynamics conference in South Africa!

  1. Register and join the 5th Annual System Dynamics Competition.
  2. Prepare a paper for the 10th Annual System Dynamics Conference. The virtual nature of the conference allows participation from all corners of the world AND it is completely FREE to enter!!
    We hope you will support our initiatives to increase
    system dynamics awareness in Africa and around the world.
    All the best for all of you, stay home, stay safe, stay healthy and keep modelling.

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