Kent's Reviews > Thinking in Systems: A Primer

Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites
Recommended to Kent by: Mark Tattersall

Ever read a book that you're sad to finish because you borrowed it from the library, rather than bought it? Also, you were sad you couldn't write notes in the margins or highlight passages? Yeah, that's this right here.

This is essential reading for anyone, and I say that without hyperbole. You should do it especially if you're in business, technology, or policy (god, especially policy) but also just generally if you live on this planet and care about a thing. I think perhaps it puts a lot of people off because of two things:
One, the perceived dryness of the title/topic, but there's no worry here, as Meadows conveys complex ideas simply and engagingly.
Two, the sustainability emphasis that runs through it. However, even though it takes an environmentalist stance, you can completely discard that to embrace the bigger picture of the book - which is, well, to embrace the bigger picture.

As I read this I was floored by the constant application to my life. Pretty remarkable considering the bulk of the writing was done around 2001 and it wasn't published until 2008. The passage about how we tend to focus on the play of a system but not the space it has to play in made me think about the infrastructure challenges we have at work. The bit about the volatility that can result from removing delays from a system is powerfully and scarily echoed in the story of the 2010 flash crash (well-told in the Radiolab episode "Speed"). And the whole thing about a system constantly reinforcing itself even if you change the players within it is the plot of The Wire.

While it can be daunting to think about challenges in this way, it's really the only way to do it if we want to solve those challenges.
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Reading Progress

October 17, 2014 – Shelved
October 17, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
February 28, 2015 – Started Reading
March 8, 2015 – Shelved as: favorites
March 8, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Anil (new) - added it

Anil This review made me buy this book that was on my wish list for quite a few weeks.


message 2: by Vegard (new) - added it

Vegard Stikbakke Love the Wire bit


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