Systems Modelling Conference

28 September 2017 at Adams Auditorium, UNSW Canberra


Systems thinking and modelling is the science of integration, where every system is conceptualised as a set of inter-related components. Systems thinking and systems modelling provides a problem solving approach that helps us develop the capacity to understand and manage complexity in a systemic way and how to deal with it in multi-stakeholder situations.

The Capability Systems Centre runs a one day conference on the use of whole-systems approach to design and manage complex problems in socio-technical and socio-ecological systems. The daylong conference on September 28th will feature showcases on the use of Systems thinking and Systems modelling in a wide range of areas. We invite you to join us!

The theme of the conference is on ‘using systems thinking to challenge mental models’. Human’s mind is inclined to think about complex problems linearly, from causes to effects. It does not generally consider multi-causalities and feedback loops in the structure of the systems, which have caused problems. This incomplete picture of mental models often results in failed decisions and sub-optimal designs; those that solve one issue but create several new problems. The aim of this conference is to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners, and students to share ideas and experiences about how the use of Systems thinking and systems modelling techniques, in different sectors (infrastructure, defence, energy, water, etc.), can inform mental models and enable tackling real world complex problems.

Keynote Speakers

The keynote speakers for the Systems Modelling Conference to date include:

Associate Professor Shayne Gary, AGSM Fellow, UNSW Business School.

Shayne Gary is an Associate Professor at UNSW Australia Business School where he is Head of the Strategy, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship Research Cluster. He teaches Strategic Management across MBA and Executive Programs. His research examines how differences in managerial mental models, cognitive reasoning processes, and implementation policies lead to different performance outcomes over time. Shayne studies these behavioral strategy factors in the context of corporate diversification, firm growth, and mergers and acquisitions. His research utilizes experiments, in-depth fieldwork, and system dynamics simulation modeling. He was awarded the 2016 Jay Wright Forrester Award for the best research contribution to system dynamics over the previous five years. The Australian Research Council has funded Shayne’s research, and he is an Associate Editor of the System Dynamics Review. He was a founding member of the Behavioral Strategy Interest Group in the Strategic Management Society and was Chair in 2015. Shayne has been a visiting scholar at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He received his Ph.D. at London Business School and his BSc degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Title: Mental models and dynamic decision making


Dr Barry Newell, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment and ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Barry Newell is a physicist with a focus on the dynamics of social-ecological systems. He is involved in action research aimed at developing practical transdisciplinary approaches to policy making in complex systems. This work has led to the systems thinking and modelling approach called Collaborative Conceptual Modelling (CCM) that he has developed in collaboration with Dr. Katrina Proust. Barry’s research career spans some 50 years, and includes studies of the dynamics of stellar and galactic evolution, experiential social learning, urban health, and adaptive-policy making. He is co-author, with Robert Dyball, of the textbook Understanding Human Ecology: A systems approach to sustainability. Barry holds Honorary Associate Professor positions in the Fenner School of Environment and Society, and the Research School of Engineering, both at The Australian National University. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Institute for Global Health at the United Nations University in Kuala Lumpur.

Decomposability: A critical issue in systems analysis and adaptive-policy making.

Commondore Allison Norris, Director General, Australian Defence Simulation and Training Centre.

Commodore Allison Norris, RAN (nee Horder) grew up in Maitland, NSW, joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1987 and graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1989 after completing a Bachelor of Science. In 1990 she was awarded the RSL Sword for the highest results during Seaman Officer Training. Between 1991 and 1999, she undertook sea service in HMA Ships Jervis Bay, Tobruk, Canberra, Adelaide and Sydney. Her duties included; Bridge Watchkeeper, Air Intercept Controller and Above Water Warfare specialist. Norris was promoted to Lieutenant in 1993 and completed deployments to the Middle East in support of Operation DAMASK and OPERATION BASTILLE in East Timor.

In 2000, the then Lieutenant Commander Norris took up an appointment with the United States Navy in Dam Neck, Virginia. On return to Australia she served as the Fleet Direction Officer responsible for the maintenance of Air Warfare standards across the surface Fleet. Shortly after, she was appointed as Executive Officer HMAS Melbourne, which included a further deployment to the Middle East on Operations CATALYST and SLIPPER. In 2005 she undertook studies at the Australian Command and Staff College, providing her the opportunity to develop her understanding of the broader Defence organisation.

As a Commander, Norris completed duties within Melbourne Navy Workforce Planning and an appointment as the Staff Officer to the Chief of Navy between 2006 and 2008.

She returned to HMAS Melbourne 2008-2009 to undertake her first Command at sea. After which, she assumed the role as Commander Collective Training in Fleet Headquarters and then as the Deputy Director of Navy Major Projects within Strategic Command.

Promoted to Captain in 2012 she assumed the role as the Director of the Joint Control Centre at Headquarters Joint Operations Command where she contributed to global, regional and domestic operations.

Then Captain Norris assumed Command of the Durance Class replenishment vessel HMAS Success in December 2012. During her tenure Success fulfilled the role as On Scene Commander during Operation SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN, the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370. Success was awarded the Duke of Gloucester for the most proficient Fleet unit in December 2014 and for her efforts she was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

In 2016 she fulfilled the role as the Chief of Staff to the Chief of Defence Force and was promoted to Commodore at the end of that year.

Commodore Norris is currently serving as the Director General Australian Defence Simulation and Training at Headquarters Joint Operations Command.

In 2010, CAPT Norris was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards in the Community and Government Category for the ACT. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of New South Wales, a Masters of Management (Defence Studies) from the University of Canberra and a Masters of Maritime Studies from the University of Wollongong. She is married to Adrian and they reside in Canberra.