Please leave your comments

Jay Wright Forrester – founder of our field, leader, mentor, guide, and friend – 1918-2016. Born on Bastille Day, “but to my knowledge,” he once said recently, “the French haven’t taken any notice of it yet.” The System Dynamics community has had him in its midst since the late 1950s. We’ve heard his exhortations (and occasional scoldings) over these almost-60 years, and have grown as individuals and as a field from the examples he set for us. In the early years he struck fear in our hearts as we tried to meet his demands. In the later years we realized the warmth that lay under his drive for our perfection, and we are grateful for all of it.

Jay’s quotes are endlessly instructive. He was always challenging: “The solutions to small problems yield small results. … The most important problems are but little more difficult to handle than the unimportant.” He startled us: “The most important decision of the CEO is how to limit growth.” He saw a similar phenomenon in global dynamics: “Relying on technology to solve the problems created by growth is to evade the question of how to slow growth.” He insisted on an endogenous view: “We cause our own problems.” He always sought wise generalizations from his own model-based work: “Even if we manage to find a high leverage point in a complex system, we’re very likely to push the lever in the wrong direction.” He sought to improve practice in management science: “It’s false to assume that accuracy must be achieved before precision is useful.” In his enthusiasm he occasionally overreached: “Only System Dynamics modelers can talk for an hour without contradicting themselves.” (Just recently he moderated that: “Well, maybe twenty minutes.”) He had unwavering, quiet confidence, and urged us to have it too: “Have courage…”

Many of us have memories we cherish and want to share about Jay. This page is for us all. Write what you want others to see and hear. We will all gain from our memories of Jay.


113 comments

  • Ignacio J Martinez-Moyano

    Jay was extraordinarily generous with his time and knowledge. When I asked him to be a part of my dissertation research, he immediately agreed to do it and was one of the most interested and active participants throughout the study. After some time, when part of my interest turned to the Beer Game and its origins, he did not think twice in opening up his home to chat with us at length about the game, System Dynamics, the world, and the future. We shared a great meal prepared by Susan and spent a wonderful time exploring countless topics related to complexity and dynamic behavior. Thank you Professor Forrester for your wisdom and generosity.

  • Karen Galarneau

    I am saddened by his passing, and surely, the heavens are brighter with this star now up there. His books Industrial Dynamics and Urban Dynamics influenced me a lot, and his work on system dynamics changed my heuristics and inspired my research directions. Thank you for a life so dedicated to system dynamics. Farewell to a great man.

  • Sangdon Lee

    I discovered the industrial dynamics and world dynamics during my graduate program and SD has changed my life since then forever. I try to think in terms of stocks and flows, and feedback loops always. Thanks for your great insights.

    Sangdon Lee