The system - References and quotes
REFERENCES AND QUOTES
DANA (DONELLA) MEADOWS LECTURE: SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS Goal of national economy is growth. System goes into conniption if it doesn’t get growth. 15:00 PART 1 “meaningful, moral, satisfying goal – with a sense of enough”29:35 PART 2 real human fulfillment 30:03 PART 2 cultural commitment to protect resource base 1:55 PART 3 we got to have an enough “If you get how we are interrelated with the environment and that all of this throughputs that run our lives come from the environment, go back to the environment and that we cannot be out of balance then you start inventing new functions and purposes. The first thing that you see is that growth is one of the stupidest purposes ever invented by any culture! We got to have an enough!”07.38 PART 3 I THINKING IN SYSTEMS – A PRIMER“Purposes are deduced from behavior, not from rhetoric or stated goals”14 “Keeping sub-purposes and overall system purposes in harmony is an essential function of successful”“The least obvious part of the system, its function or purpose, is often the most crucial determinant of the systems behavior” 16“Life started with single-cell bacteria, not with elephants. The original purpose of a hierarchy is always to help its originating subsystems do their jobs better. This is something, unfortunately, that both the higher and the lower levels of a greatly articulated hierarchy easily can forget. Therefore, many systems are not meeting our goals because of malfunctioning hierarchies.”84 “When a subsystem’s goals dominate at the expense of the total system’s goals, the resulting behavior is called suboptimization. Just as damaging as suboptimization, of course, is the problem of too much central control. If the brain controlled each cell so tightly that the cell could not perform its self-maintenance functions, the whole organism could die.” 85 systems beguiling events 88 “We have to invent boundaries for clarity and sanity; and boundaries can produce problems when we forget that we’ve artificially created them.” 97“Ideally, we would have the mental flexibility to find the appropriate boundary for thinking about each new problem. We are rarely that flexible.” “Think how many arguments have to do with boundaries - national boundaries, trade boundaries, ethnic boundaries, boundaries between public and private responsibility, and boundaries between the rich and the poor, polluters and pollutees, people alive now and people who will come in the future.”98 “Boundaries are of our own making, and that they can and should be reconsidered for each new discussion, problem, or purpose.” 99 bounded rationality 106 “Such resistance to change arises when goals of subsystems are different from and inconsistent with each other.”113 harmonizing goals, align the various goals of subsystems through “an overarching goal that allows all actors to break out of their bounded rationality”115 “one of the most powerful ways to influence the behavior of a system is through its purpose or goal. That’s because the goals is the direction-setter of the system, the definer of discrepancies that require action, the indicator of compliance, failure, or success toward which balancing feedback loops work.”138 problem with GNP as a goal “An expensive second home for a rich family makes the GNP go up more than an inexpensive basic home for a poor family” 139 “If you define the goal of a society as GNP, that society will do its best to produce GNP. It will not produce welfare, equity, justice, or efficiency unless you define a goal and regularly measure and report the state of welfare, equity, justice, or efficiency. The world would be a different place if instead of competing to have the highest per capita GNP, nations competed to have the highest per capita stocks of wealth with the lowest throughput, or the lowest infant mortality, or the greatest political freedom, or the cleanest environment, or the smallest gap between the rich and the poor.” 140 “Any balancing feedback loop needs a goal…” 153 “The most stunning thing living systems and some social systems can do is to change themselves utterly by creating whole new structures and behaviors. In biological systems that power is called evolution. In human economies it’s called technical advance or social revolution. In systems lingo it’s called self-organization.” “The ability to self-organize is the strongest form of system resilience.” SeeThe dynamics of self-renewal: A systems-thinking to understanding organizational challenges in dynamic environments 6 159 “Self-organization is basically a matter of an evolutionary raw material—a highly variable stock of information from which to select possible patterns—and a means for experimentation, for selecting and testing new patterns.”. We should worship biodiversity, diversity is source of evolutionary protentional just as knowledge is to technology potential, in the same way should we celebrate cultural diversity as source of social evolution. “Insistence on a single culture shuts down learning and cuts back resilience. Any system, biological, economic, or social, that gets so encrusted that it cannot self-evolve, a system that systematically scorns experimentation and wipes out the raw material of innovation, is doomed over the long term on this highly variable planet.” Encourage variability, experimentation and diversity even if it means losing control. “Let a thousand flower bloom and anything could happen!” See The dynamics of self-renewal: A systems-thinking to understanding organizational challenges in dynamic environments 6160 Technology, good or bad, depends on the goal of the one using it. 161 Growth as a goal, “Actually it’s the goal of every living population—and only a bad one when it isn’t balanced by higher level balancing feedback loops that never let an upstart power-loop-driven entity control the world. The goal of keeping the market competitive has to trump the goal of each individual corporation to eliminate its competitors, just as in ecosystems, the goal of keeping populations in balance and evolving has to trump the goal of each population to reproduce without limit.” 161, 162 Goals can be changed, look at Reagan. Importance of standing “articulating, meaning, repeating, standing up for, insisting upon, new system goals.”162 Kuhn, to change paradigm: “keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm. You keep speaking and acting, loudly and with assurance, from the new one. You insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather, you work with active change agents and with the vast middle ground of people who are open-minded.” 164 Uncertainty 168 “The future can’t be predicted, but it can be envisioned and brought lovingly into being.” 170 what do we want, quantity or quality? “If quantity forms the goals of our feedback loops, if quantity is the center of our attention and language and institutions, if we motivate ourselves, rate ourselves, and reward ourselves on our ability to produce quantity, then quantity will be the result.” 176 don’t erode the goal of goodness 184The system
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