Thinking in systems

A Primer

240 pages

English language

Published Aug. 8, 2008 by Chelsea.

ISBN:
9781603580557

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (16 reviews)

Meadows’ 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 …

2 editions

so appreciative of this book

4 stars

This book is used in a few different classes at mpow, and I’m glad it is. I’m giving a talk on Monday about how leaders are catalysts for change, and I am going to be meditating on a few of the ideas presented here - in particular, the need to break out of our positionality & perspective to change things in a non-destructive manner. It’s very prescient of the time we’re in now, and sad to think about how its warnings have been unheeded by engineers & technologists at a point where we’re more reliant on & worshipping of shitty models than ever.

Review of 'Thinking in systems : a primer' on 'GoodReads'

4 stars

I read this because I felt that I functioned as part of many systems, that they were largely dysfunctional, and that I wanted to change that.

I learned about some ways of thinking about complex systems, and some ways they fall into dysfunctional behaviors. I learned about some sorts of stimuli that seem to have more or less impact on systems. I also read about an attitude towards existing with systems that was focused on harmony and not on control. This helped articulate a new lens with which to see the world; it also illuminated another aspect of what sort of life I want to lead.

Definitely worth the time spent reading and thinking.

Review of 'Thinking in systems' on Goodreads

3 stars

1) "A system is a set of things---people, cells, molecules, or whatever---interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time. The system may be buffeted, constricted, triggered, or driven by outside forces. But the system's response to these forces is characteristic of itself, and that response is seldom simple in the real world."

2) "We are less likely to be surprised if we can see how events accumulate into dynamic patterns of behavior. The team is on a winning streak. The variance of the river is increasing, with higher floodwaters during rains and lower flows during droughts. The Dow has been trending up for two years. Discoveries of oil are becoming less frequent. The felling of forests is happening at an ever-increasing rate.
The behavior of a system is its performance over time---its growth, stagnation, decline, oscillation, randomness, or evolution. If the news …

Review of 'Thinking in systems' on Goodreads

5 stars

Dana's clear and illustrative use of language shines through this (and is immediately recognizable from Limits to Growth). Really outstanding short introduction to systems thinking, why systems surprise us, and why systems thinking is also no silver bullet for control of the complex systems that make up our world. The best (and final) chapters of this book are available online www.donellameadows.org/archives/leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/ and www.donellameadows.org/dancing-with-systems/

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Subjects

  • System analysis -- Simulation methods
  • Decision making -- Simulation methods
  • Critical thinking -- Simulation methods
  • Sustainable development -- Simulation methods
  • Social sciences -- Simulation methods
  • Economic development -- Environmental aspects -- Simulation methods
  • Population -- Economic aspects -- Simulation methods
  • Pollution -- Economic aspects -- Simulation methods
  • Environmental education -- Simulation methods

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