Thinking in Systems, Donella Meadows

We see patterns. But reality is really all systems.

Posted on Dec 05, '23

Your first system, is you.

Feeling stressed? Go for a run. But why - that’s such an absurd thing to do! But it works. The exercise endorphins make you feel calmer. Being calm allows you focus. Focus leads to better problem solving. Problem solving leads to solutions. Solutions reduce stress. Congratulations! You’ve just used understanding yourself as a system, to produce your desired effect.

Systems thinking is a perspective, of understanding things by looking at them as systems - with elements, inter-relationships and purpose. This book was recommended to me as a go-to for fundamentals of systems thinking.

Stocks and flows

one stock and two stock systems inflow and outflow

Loops & Delays

the concept of loops; feedback loops, reinforcing loops; constraints concept of delays dominant loops

oscillations; perception delay, response delay

changing the length of a delay to influence a system; strong determinants of behavior

Systems Zoo

systems don’t exist in isolation - multiple kinds of systems

systems with similar feedback structures produce similar behaviors system dynamics questions explore possible futures and what-if questions how to assess the value of a model / model utility

two stock systems

two stock system no unlimited growth limits to growth archetype non-renewable resource are stock limited renewable resource is flow limited