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Thinking about systems and how to change them Based on Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems - A Primer, Earthscan, 2009 - GT -Apr-09.

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Presentation on theme: "Thinking about systems and how to change them Based on Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems - A Primer, Earthscan, 2009 - GT -Apr-09."— Presentation transcript:

1 Thinking about systems and how to change them Based on Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems - A Primer, Earthscan, GT -Apr-09

2 Key elements Stocks Flows Feedback Balancing Reinforcing Positive loops Negative loops

3 Key words Resilience Self-organisation Hierarchy

4 Surprise, surprise Events Behaviour Structure Non-linear No boundaries Always ad-hoc Limits Delays Bounded rationality Each actor vs welfare as a whole

5 Traps and opportunities Policy resistance Bounded rationalities Inconsistent goals Let go - give up ineffective policies Overarching goal - so break out of BRs Tragedy of commons Educate, exhort Privatise Regulate Drifting down Absolute / improving standards

6 Traps and opportunities Escalation Reinf feedback loop Avoid Refuse to compete Balancing loop Success to successful Diversify Limitations (anti-trust) Periodic levelling Rewards without bias

7 Traps and opportunities Shifting the burden, addiction, dependence Reduces symptions, misses problem Avoid Restructure Rule Beating Design / Redesign to achieve purpose Wrong goal Real Welfare of system Not confuse effort with result

8 Leverage points Often counter-intuitive Avoid pushing in wrong direction

9 Leverage points Numbers / size of flows Fiddling with details Buffers Size of stabalising stocks Stock and flow structures Rebuild it but slow Design it right in first place

10 Leverage points Delays Common in feedback loops, cause oscillations, critical determinants of system behaviour If can change, may have big effect, if in right direction Balancing feedback loops Often inactive, critical when needed, don’t remove

11 Leverage points Reinforcing feedback loops Source of growth, explosion, erosion, collapse; success to successful Information flows Access, if missing malfunction of system Rules, incentives, punishments, constraints Who has power over them High leverage points

12 Leverage points Self organisation - power to add, change, evolve system structure Diversity, variability, experimentation Losing control Goals - purpose or function of system Core issue, who can change Paradigm - mind set Shifting changes rest Transcending paradigms No paradigm is true, model accurate Be clear of purpose

13 System wisdoms Get the beat of the system Understand, see how behaves, get data Expose mental models to light of day Everything’s only a model Honour, respect, distribute information Do not distort, delay, withhold info Use Language with care, enhance it with systems concepts Resilience, carrying capacity…. Be concrete, meaningful, truthful

14 System wisdoms Attend to what is important, not just what is quantifiable Beauty, love, caring, justice, security…. Make feedback policies for feedback systems Vary according to response Go for the good of the whole Hierarchies exist to serve the bottom layer

15 System wisdoms Listen to the wisdom of the system Aid things that help it run itself Locate responsibility in the system In both analysis and design Stay humble, stay a learner Celebrate complexity Expand time horizons Discount the discount rate, think long term

16 System wisdoms Expand the boundary of caring ‘No part of the human race is separate either from other human beings or from the global ecosystem’ Don’t erode the goal of goodness Look at the best we humans can do, spread it.


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