RUM - Really Useful Models

By
Peter Lacey, Director, Whole Systems Partnership
Whole Systems Partnership

Just as patients often assume that information about them is shared by different parts of the health system there might be an assumption that when a really useful simulation model is developed it would be picked up and used elsewhere. We have some good examples of this, including work supporting more than 20 local systems to model the impact of COVID using the same model and a standard set of initialisation data tailored for each system. However, generally the spread and adoption of the models we build is limited.

We have explored several barriers to this including the 'not invented here' syndrome, or unfamiliarity with even the basics of system dynamics modeling, which is our tool of choice for strategic challenges in complex systems. There has been academic reflection on these challenges but we are confident that there is a way to break through.

To do this we need to make things easy and to provide routes into experiencing the joys of seeing simple models demonstrate behaviour over time! We believe that this will convince many more people that system dynamics should become an essential part of any analytics toolbox, unleashing huge amounts of insight and learning in an environment where too much of our thinking is linear. More and more people are recognising the power of system dynamics modeling with its feedback loops and ability to explore future 'what-if' scenarios, but we can do more.

RUM is therefore planning to launch a web-based resource, initially within the Open Innovations environment, that can give access to system dynamics models, their source code and advice on how to adapt and adopt them. Simple educational material will be provided or sign-posted to and we will create a relationship with the growing interest in training and development of people's skills as systems practitioners. RUM will operate on a commercial but not-for-profit basis making resources available under creative commons arrangements to better drive up the value added when a really useful model is developed.

We'd love to see as many people as possible join us on this journey in the hope that together we can shape the direction of travel in ways that respond to some of the burning issues in our health and care systems. We'll have a strong and experienced leadership group that ensures we tackle appropriate issues in ways that best reflect the strengths of system dynamics modeling.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this venture whatever level of exposure you've had to system dynamics modeling and whether you're an 'end-user' of modeling projects or into the nitty-gritty of model building. So, please add your thoughts and join the conversation, helping us to build value in the commons using system dynamics modeling. Share your thoughts or interests in this initiative by e-mailing Peter.