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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Meadows’s ideas are clearly presented and defined, though the writing style is a bit stilted and there are a number of typos throughout the text; this may be the fault of the editor, however, who adapted the content of the original pamphlet form of Thinking in Systems for this book.

The long term interests of your liver require the long term health of your body, and the long term interests of sawmills require the long-term health of forests. Examples of bad behaviour are held up, magnified by the media, affirmed by the culture, as typical.

Thou shalt not distort, delay, or sequester information. It has its limitations – I’d love to see more recent examples, and can’t help wondering if there are any open-source Systems modelling resources.

» Dancing With Systems by Donella Meadows OntheWilderSide

Donella Meadows was a Harvard-educated scientist who worked at MIT and taught at Dartmouth, and was among the vanguard of systems thinkers. Jul 13, Mohamed Yehia rated it it was ok. Instead of becoming a champion for one possible explanation or hypothesis or model, collect as many as possible. Practically, it is done through building a model of the underlying system.

Donella Meadows

Feb 19, Will rated it really liked it. To think how many arguments have to do with boundaries- national trade ethnic, boundaries between public and private responsibility, and boundaries between the religious ch and poor, polluters and pollutees, people alive now and people who cone in the future. Summarized and doneola from Meadows,pp.

In other words, the success of the MIT meadosw of system dynamics is obscuring other valuable contributions in the systems domain to such an extent that it is becoming a liability rather than an asset considered against the background of witg gains in intellectual capital that could be qith by other systems approaches.


Of course one natural and urgent interest in systems behaviour is how to change it. In chapter 6, Meadows talks about seeing systems under different paradigms, and ultimately transcending paradigms entirely, leading to this rather rapturous paragraph: After a year-long trip with her husband, Dennis Meadows, from England to Sri Lanka and back, she became, along with him, a research fellow at MIT, as a member of a team in the department created by Jay Forrester, the inventor of system dynamics as well as the principle of magnetic data storage for computers.

Aim to enhance total systems properties, such as creativity, stability, diversity, resilience, and sustainability—whether they are easily measured or not. If I meadoss, I would add an Eleventh Commandment: Pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.

This rather sums up the difficulty that you face through thinking in systems. It spends its time in transient behavior on its way to somewhere else, not in mathematically neat equilibria.

It self-organizes and evolves.

Thinking in Systems: A Primer

Hollis Crossman rated it really liked it. This book deserves a star more if the concepts and the ideas in it a completely new to you. The far more numerous examples of human goodness are barely noticed. Suggested practices to build these strong relationships eith Word for word, this is donflla of the best books I’ve ever read. Despite this book was written in it deserves 6 stars even nowadays. They are not controllable. The example could be a bank balance with the compounded interest rate; population growth of rabbits or escalation of a political conflict.

Living successfully in a world of systems requires more of us than our ability to calculate. Understanding how the parts of systems interact or are likely to interact, and realizing that much of systems operation is surprising and even counterintuitive, can be a powerful tool for anyone involved in organizational decision-making, management, or projection and guidance.


Examples of bad human behavior are held up, magnified by the media, affirmed by the culture, as typical. It’s a decent primer but it only scratches the surface. For those who stake their identity on the role of omniscient conqueror, the uncertainty exposed by systems thinking is hard to take.

This is quite a list. Statements of moral belief are suspect. This book was meant to grasp the basics of systems thinking, which it does but its writing style is not clear enough.

Locate responsibility in the system. May 05, Jan Martinek rated it it was amazing. Paine Science Education Award in She discusses why sailboat races progressed from a way to have fun with normal sailboats, to a highly specialized competition in which boats mmeadows useless for any other purpose except competition in carefully-defined sailboat races.

The fish population the resource stock falls, but that stimulates the fish reproduction rate to replenish. Systems thinking leads to another conclusion—however, waiting, shining, obvious as soon as we stop being blinded by the illusion of control.

The sytems horizon of most families still extends farther than that—through the lifetimes of children or grandchildren. In spite of this, I did not feel her explanations and approach has aged.

As you think about a system, spend part of your time from a vantage point that lets you see the whole system, not just the problem that may have drawn you to focus on the system to begin with. It isn’t real technical and technical people may find it not technical enoughbut the results are important and often surprising. Digg 3 Column by WP Designer. Gustavus Adolphus College Video: The Academy occasionally sends E-newsletters with updates on the work of our fellows, the Donella Meadows Project and more.

Changing them is not simple.

Select your interests below: Meadows published Leverage Points: Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.