Donella Meadows, a professor at Dartmouth College, a long-time organic farmer, journalist, and systems analyst, was working on a book titled Thinking in. We love Donella Meadows’ take on nurturing systems. “The Dance” is a great motivator to post on the bulletin board at your think-tank, school. In her article, “Dancing with Systems,” the late and beloved Donella Meadows ( ) speaks to the mystery at the source of quest for wholeness. Self-organizing .

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It will be sure to lead across traditional eith lines. I love how it provides real-life examples fish population, economic failure modes, A Primer by Donella H.

It is an excellent set of guidelines that could help you to improve your own practice, particularly when you work in the kind of complex multi-stakeholder situations that are so commonly encountered as we try to support a systems transformation towards increased sustainability. You can imagine why a dynamic, self-adjusting system cannot be governed by a static, unbending policy.

Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves. If you’re involved in management or part of a steering committee, read this book. This type of feedback makes the system more stable, but more resistant to change as well.

Designing a system for intrinsic responsibility could mean, for example, requiring all towns or companies that emit wastewater into a stream to place their intake pipe downstream from their outflow pipe. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire: Attempts in Romania to increase the birth rate by banning abortion led to an increase in deaths from back-street abortions and an increase of children abandoned at orphanages. In this example, we explored a zooming out approach to reach the structures underlying a system.

Good guys promise to do things for everyone but never sytsems them, or even make things worse. This is essential reading for anyone, and I say that without hyperbole.

The third wave has historically been driven by the personal-growth process supported by faith, therapy, and education communities: Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Expand the boundary of caring. Aid and encourage the structures that help the system run itself. The world is complex and that is why our Hollywood movies have sucky plots, our politicians say idiotic things that idiotic people believe, and the word “accurate economist” is an oxymoron.


It’s a decent primer but it only scratches the surface. It isn’t real technical and technical people may find it not technical enoughbut the results are important and often surprising.

I got interested in this a while ago after reading “The Limits to Growth,” of which Meadows was one of the authors. Systems that work well are resilient, self-organizing, and employ hierarchy within their structure. A human being, for example, might be seen as a closed system, until one considers the other human beings in the subject’s vicinity with whom she interacts, the environment in which she lives, etc.

The far more numerous examples of human goodness are barely noticed. Hold fast to the goal of goodness. In it Donella makes the crucially important point that the most transformative and effective leverage points are addressed dystems acting at the level of paradigm-change, by addressing the culture change that would shift the dominant believes about the system.

Highly reco Nice introduction to systems thinking.

A Visual Approach to Leverage Points – The Donella Meadows Project

Feb 24, Eliise Peelo rated it it was amazing. Actions taken now have some immediate effects and some that radiate out for decades to come. Technically, systems analysts use computer-processed mathematical models to analyze systems and attempt to forecast best practices; Thinking in Systemshowever, offers a non-technical introduction to the fascinating discipline, and provides readers with enough information and detail to guide reflection, analysis, and activity.

Good intro to systems thinking Good introduction to systems thinking specifically about the world. There are bad guys who do good things. She gives more formal definition: There’s the trap of the “drift to low performance. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Examples are tax rates, spending rates, caps on ambient air quality, minimal wage and cap at prices.


It explains the basics very clearly. It helps to remember that the parts of a system cannot survive without the whole. It will not be possible in this integrated world for your heart to succeed if your lungs fail, or for your company to succeed if your workers fail, or for the rich in Los Angeles to succeed if the poor in Los Angeles fail, or for Europe to succeed if Africa fails, or for the global economy to succeed if the global environment fails.

Only part of us, a part that has emerged recently, designs buildings as boxes with uncompromising straight lines and flat surfaces.

There are moral reasons for doing that, of course. Meadows was one of the co-authors of the Club of Rome Report on Limits to Growth which contributed to putting the issue of sustainability on the agenda of business and governments. And there are a lot of connections and feedbacks. Examples include direct action, environmental protection legislation and lobbying, and providing for the poor and homeless.

Thinking in Systems: A Primer

Look for the ways the system creates its own behaviour. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.

Two interesting examples stand out. Respectively, a change in one part of the system would course the change in another part. The collection of essays and blog posts records the unfolding of Occupy into the culture from September to the present. Expand the boundary of caring. Visit Ian’s profile on Pinterest.