A New Approach for Complex Problem Solving: The Independent Systems Dynamics Elicitation Method
The Systems Dynamics literature demonstrates that individuals have difficulty understanding and working with systems concepts. To model Systems Dynamics (SD), researchers suggest that clients contract with a modeling team to formulate the problem, elicit the mental models of employees at the client, and use software-based simulation tools. This approach is both time-intensive and costly, limiting its use by organizations. This two-part study piloted the Independent Systems Dynamics Elicitation Method (ISDEM), a new method that may be self-administered by teams to reveal individuals' mental models. The first study, a between-subjects design, compared undergraduate participants' responses on the Systems-Based Inquiry Protocol (S-BI) to the ISDEM. Participants reported more relationships and feedback loops using the ISDEM, and obtained significantly higher Systemic Reasoning Level scores. In Study 2, groups of undergraduate participants were asked to brainstorm and develop a collective model of an issue of university interest, using either their typical brainstorming methods, or the ISDEM. Independent coders rated the ISDEM significantly more informative, clear and useful than the control models. In sum, the ISDEM did a significantly better job eliciting individuals' mental models of systems dynamics than traditional measures, and is a valuable new tool for organizations to use to map systemic phenomenon.
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