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.
Turn it down some more, and the water level will fall slowly. This model of a
bathtub is a very simple system with just one stock, one inflow, and one outflow.
Over the time period of interest (minutes), I have assumed that evaporation from
If inventories rise too high, then prices are cut or advertising budgets are
increased, so that sales will go up and inventories will fall. If the stock of food in
your kitchen gets low, you go to the store. As the stock of growing grain rises or
fails to rise ...
For an hour or two, the outside is mild enough that the furnace replaces most of
the heat that's lost to the outside, and the room temperature stays near the
desired temperature. But as the outside temperature falls and the heat leak
Changing flows (fertility and mortality) create a change in the behavior over time
of the stock (population)—the line bends. If, for example, world fertility falls
steadily to equal mortality by the year 2035 and they both stay constant thereafter
, the ...
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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