Cart 0

News — system thinking

System collapse? Not quite.

System thinking

Watching, wide eyed, the revolutionary bonfire of institutions in the United States is a little alarming. It’s alarming because these institutions have vital functions: they control the gains to dominant players by enforcing laws and regulations. They are guarantors of the sense of fairness that holds that society together. The Republicans’ clear intention is to unleash a tornado of profit making to reignite American capitalism. They are likely, of course, to simultaneously tilt inequality to nineteenth century levels and produce even deeper pits of despair to create the next Trump.* This is exactly the cycle that destroyed the Roman Republic, whose...

Read more →


The interventionist’s first tool

Strategy System thinking

Sometimes we have the authority, resources, mandate, or duty to make a difference to others’ lives, or neighbourhoods, or workplaces, or businesses, or environments. Often people want betterment, but lack the means themselves to make their lives more hopeful, safer, more certain, or autonomous. Maybe we’re aiming to tackle litter at the local shops, or prepare a town for floods, or help an agricultural system adapt to climate change, or tackle family violence or ice addiction in a community. In that case we need to design an intervention. Probably the two most important qualities we need to call upon now...

Read more →


How to change a system (18 ways)

Strategy System thinking

"Hunger, poverty, environmental degradation, economic instability, unemployment, chronic disease, drug addiction, and war, for example, persist in spite of the analytical ability and technical brilliance that have been directed toward eradicating them. No one deliberately creates those problems, no one wants them to persist, but they persist nonetheless. That is because they are intrinsically systems problems - undesirable behaviors characteristic of the system structures that produce them." - Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems, a Primer Systems are everywhere: natural systems, institutional systems, health systems, food systems, communities, corporations, families, schools, bodies, lives. Making a better world always means intervening in systems. Scratch...

Read more →


What is a system?

autonomy innovation strategy system thinking

"Systems thinkers see the world as a collection of stocks along with the mechanisms for regulating the levels in the stocks by manipulating flows. That means system thinkers see the world as a collection of 'feedback processes.'" - Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer Designing SUSTAINED change always means intervening in systems. But what is a 'system'? To clarify what ‘system’ means, I've discovered/thought of 28 statements about systems. Most of these are well known and can be discovered by Googling ‘system thinking’. Some are based on Donella Meadows' work and System Dynamics. Some are from books on resilience thinking. Some are my...

Read more →