John Sterman

Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management / Professor of System Dynamics and Engineering Systems / Director, MIT System Dynamics Group


John StermanJohn D. Sterman’s research centers on improving managerial decision making in complex systems. He has pioneered the development of “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems. These flight simulators are now used by corporations and universities around the world. His recent research ranges from the dynamics of organizational change and the implementation of sustainable improvement programs to experimental studies assessing the public’s understanding of global climate change. Sterman‘s research includes systems thinking and organizational learning, computer simulation of corporate strategy, and the theory of nonlinear dynamics.

He is the author of many scholarly and popular articles on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, including the book, Modeling for Learning Organizations, and the award-winning textbook, Business Dynamics. His articles on the innovative use of interactive simulations in management education and corporate problem solving have appeared in Fortune, the Financial Times, BusinessWeek, as well as other newspapers and journals. He has been featured on Public Television’s News Hour, National Public Radio’s Marketplace, and CBS television.

Sterman twice has been awarded the Jay W. Forrester Prize for the “Best Published Work in System Dynamics.” He also has won a 2005 IBM Faculty Award as well as the 2001 Accenture Award for the “Best Paper of the Year” published in the California Management Review (with Nelson Repenning). Five times, he has won awards for “Teaching Excellence” from the students of MIT Sloan, and was named one of MIT Sloan’s “Outstanding Faculty” by the 2001 BusinessWeek Guide to the Best Business Schools.

Faculty Media

  • Beyond Incremental: Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan Takes Innovation to Scale

    Once companies tackle the low-hanging fruit of operational improvement—carbon footprints, energy-efficiency retrofits and waste reduction—they are ready to address deeper sustainability challenges.

  • WBUR Radio: Backlog of Maintenance Creates Snowball Effect

    In this radio interview, professor and MBTA rider John Sterman suggests focusing on the underlying systemic forces that have caused a “backlog of deferred maintenance” on the T.

  • Audio: MBTA's Issues Run Deeper Than the Snow

    On WBUR-FM radio, MIT Sloan's John Sterman discusses the financial issues at the core of the problems for the MBTA.

  • System Dynamics for a Complex World

    John Sterman is drawn to complex issues. As director of the System Dynamics Group (SDG) at MITs Sloan School of Management, Professor Sterman specializes in understanding the dynamics of complex...

  • John Sterman on the Power of Simulations

    At a recent MIT conference, Climate Interactive member Professor John Sterman provided an inspiring analysis of the relationship between big data, climate models and climate change action.

  • The Beer Game

    "There is no actual beer in the Beer Game," says John Sterman, the Sloan Professor who is overseeing the proceedings for the 25th consecutive year. Rather, the Beer Game is a table game, developed...

  • Green Dynamics Model Wins Environmental Award

    The Green Dynamics simulation shows areas with verifiable room for improvement, as well as cost reduction potential in data centers. This is the first step towards reducing your energy costs and...

  • Brain Science Fires Up the Neurons of Managers

    Read this Financial Times article featuring John Sterman.

  • John Sterman and the Dalai Lama: Investigating Growth with a Piece of Paper

    Here's a fun game you can play to get acquainted with systems thinking: Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half. Now fold it in half again. Keep going until you've folded it six times. At this...

  • Platform Wars: Simulating the Battle for Video Game Supremacy

    In this live, web-based simulation, participants play the role of senior management of a video game hardware platform producer such as Sega, Nintendo, or Microsoft. Built around a companion case...


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