Thinking in Systems: A Primer

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Chelsea Green Publishing, Dec 3, 2008 - Science - 240 pages
4 Reviews

In the years following her role as the lead author of the international bestseller, Limits to Growth—the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet— Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001.

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 delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.

In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.

 

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User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Most people find System Thinking very difficult to understand and follow. Barring a few most writings on System Thinking are very difficult to comprehend since it a completely different way to view the world and its happenings.
In that respect this book is a notable exception. It is simple yet cogent. The most difficult principles are laid bare in the simplest possible manner.
It reads almost like an on-going dialogue between the reader and the author. Through her writing a wonderful relationship between the author and the reader is created, which is the essence of System Thinking.
It is not only serves as a Primer for anyone even mildly interested in the subject but also as a textbook for advanced practitioners since the subject can't be told any simpler.
Highly recommend a read.
Dibyendu De
dde337@gmail.com
 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

It's not an easy book to get into; neither to read all to the end. The first few chapters are particularly technical. What helps though are the concrete examples given all along the way.
The plus
for "Thinking in Systems" is that it makes you realise that systems are literally everywhere: companies, transport, state aid, offices, forests, financial, ecological, social, you name it. And the author makes it very clear that changing a system not only is complicated, counter intuitive and potentially dangerous but also transforming if done right. Big 'if' though.
If ever you wondered what the word 'complex' truly means; Thinking in Systems is a book worth going for.
 

Contents

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About the author (2008)

A woman whose pioneering work in the 1970s still makes front-page news, Donella Meadows was a scientist, author, teacher, and farmer widely considered ahead of her time. She was one of the world's foremost systems analysts and lead author of the influential Limits to Growth--the 1972 book on global trends in population, economics, and the environment that was translated into 28 languages and became an international bestseller. That book launched a worldwide debate on the earth's capacity to withstand constant human development and expansion. Twenty years later, she and co-authors Dennis Meadows and Jorgen Randers reported on their follow-up study in Beyond the Limits and a final revision of their research, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, was published in 2004.

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