Behaviour Patterns

Thinking in Systems: A Primer

Donella Meadows is an acclaimed writer and thinker on systems modeling. This book, published posthumously, presents the core of systems theory. In the introduction, Meadows posits a central insight of systems theory, that the way a system behaves is a result of its structure, not a result of outside influence. (1) This notion shapes her definition of a system as follows, “A system is a set of things–people, cells, molecules, or whatever–interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time.” (2) Meadows acknowledges that understanding a system in such a way may be counter -intuitive as we have been taught to think rationally and analytically, to see cause and effect in a linear way, and to look at problems in small, manageable pieces. (3) We have a practical understanding of systems because we are complex systems. Systems thinking/sytems seeing complements reductionist thinking/seeing. This book provides a glossary, a bibliography of systems thinking resources, a summary list of systems principles, and equations.
Meadows, D. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer (D. Wright, Ed.). Chelsea Green Publishing.

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