On being a systems dancer

Here are a few of the take-aways from the last chapter of “Thinking in Systems” (Donella H. Meadows)

“Thinking in Systems”, Donella H. Meadows

“Language eats strategy, structure, and culture for breakfast.”

Here are a few of the take-aways from the last chapter of “Thinking in Systems” (Donella H. Meadows) (Which is largely equal to the linked article):

  • “We can’t control systems. But we can dance with them”, and so we could & should aspire to become better “systems dancers”
  • Information is key, and should be honoured and treated with respect (and distributed generously) Language is more primordial than strategy, structure or culture — in other words: Language eats strategy, structure, and culture for breakfast.
  • Concepts (and thus the terms) like a system’s “carrying capacity”, its diversity and structure are often underestimated or not seen, especially in bureaucracies which do not tend to think of themselves as “systems” in the broader sense
  • Whatever we build: we should go to great lengths and take great care to include sound feedback policies into these systems, and add these from the beginning — this designs learning into the system
  • Resilience, stability, growth or sustainability (in its broadest sense) are more “systems” word to be used bountiful
  • Stay humble, stay foolish — and stay a lifelong learner full of curiosity
  • Celebrate complexity, welcome it and don’t shy away from it. In fact, once you accept complexity, the only option to deal with it is probably in fact by dancing with the underlying system. And the dance won’t be a well-timed, strict choreography and not even one of the standard dances with its toolbox of dancing steps, but more likely something like improv dance.

Dancing with Systems

This post is part of my #PKMastery journey (Edit: Now with the Oxford comma.)


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