I have been thinking carefully about this article recently both because I feel I need to introduce the ideas here and because I am scheduled to run a class on it in June.
Systems thinking, from my understanding, first came from engineering but now leads insights in many other fields including: environmental studies and economics, and biology. It is complicated and I invite the reader to explore the basics in the resources below. Donella Meadows was one of the initial writers in this area.
My particular topic to-day is thinking in systems at the highest level. The level of paradigms. That is the stories we tell, and what we understand at a gut level. Two examples, for most history women were not as intelligent as men and slavery was perfectly accepted. These were dominant paradigms. Clearly we have changed these ideas. How? An early step in change was to question what was “obvious” and un-questionable. Another early step is to imagine positive futures when change has happened. In a sense my telling stories here is to encourage thinking outside the paradigm of competition and ugliness that many of us think is normal.
I encourage the reader to read what Donella has to say and to explore the fundamental ideas on systems thinking.
By Donella Meadows~ Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in “leverage points.” These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything. This idea is not unique to systems analysis — …