Thursday, October 1, 2009

Annual conference addresses health care, energy, environment - SDM Pulse, Fall 2009

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Some of the most accomplished systems thinkers from MIT and industry will convene at MIT on October 22–23, 2009, for the annual MIT conference on systems thinking for contemporary challenges, sponsored by the Institute’s System Design and Management Program (SDM).

Speakers at this year’s event will discuss best practices for applying systems thinking to four critical and complex global challenges: health care, energy, space, and the environment. The conference is designed to provide practical information to attendees that can be applied to interdisciplinary challenges within their own work environments and extended to diverse stakeholders both inside and outside of their organizations.

MIT Associate Professor Olivier L. de Weck, associate director of the MIT Engineering Systems Division, will open the conference with a talk that outlines some of today’s most pressing societal challenges, laying out the case for taking a systems approach to finding solutions.

He and others from MIT, including Institute Professor Joel Moses, will frame the three-fold nature of systems thinking—technical, managerial, and socio-political—and outline how it is being applied in the critical areas.

Industry leaders will describe best practices that demonstrate the challenges they face within and outside their organizations, the benefits achieved through systems thinking, and the lessons learned that illustrate the need for a more holistic view of complex systems.

The first day’s talks, focusing on energy, space, and sustainability issues, will highlight experiences from within NASA, IBM, GE, John Deere, and the MIT Energy Initiative. On day two, speakers will focus on health care issues, providing perspectives from academia as well as from Partners HealthCare and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The conference is open to members of the SDM community and invited guests. If you would like to attend, contact John M. Grace, SDM industry codirector, at or 617.253.2081. Additional information is available at

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