Thinking in Systems: A Primer
In the years following her role as the lead author of the international bestseller, Limits to Growth—the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet— Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001.
Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.
Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.
While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.
In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.
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In other words, if you see a behavior that persists over time, there is likely a
mechanism creating that consistent behavior. That mechanism operates through
a feedback loop. It is the consistent behavior pattern over a long period of time
that is ...
Not all systems have feedback loops. Some systems are relatively simple open-
ended chains of stocks and flows. The chain may be affected by outside factors,
but the levels of the chain's stocks don't affect its flows. However, those systems ...
That's because feedback loops often can operate in two directions. In this case,
the feedback loop can correct an oversupply as well as an undersupply. If you
drink too much coffee and find yourself bouncing around with extra energy, you'll
feedback-loop diagram of this system, you'll get a good sense of how the
structural interconnections of this system—its two feedback loops and how they
shift in strength relative to each other—lead to the unfolding of the system's
behavior over ...
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What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - jasoncomely - LibraryThing
A powerful introduction to systems thinking that deserves to be studied, pondered over and experimented with. Essential reading for anyone who want to expand their mind. Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - CassandraT - LibraryThing
Donella Meadows's expertise and experience is a strength of this book. There are a number of inspiring examples. However, as I am already familiar with system dynamics, the book was really ... Read full review