Dancing With Systems

— Donella Meadows

, New York City
Visit donellameadows.org

Her body of work is a gift. Donella (Dana) Meadows pushed the gateway open for further understanding and sense making on the mechanics, peculiarities, and evasiveness of (non-mechanical) systems, grounded in a large body of research.

Her work teaches over and over again.

Every time you return to it, you learn something new and re-learn another thing you thought you had already grasped.

This list is seemingly simple. And yet as you know in your own journey of becoming a good systems mind, systems change practitioner, and leader amidst a knowledge economy and fast changing world, simplicity and complexity dance an intricate, compelling, and never-ending dance.

Rarely setting us down.

Instead, always inviting us for another twirl across the dance floor.

The Everlasting Dance with Systems
  • Get the beat.
  • Listen to the wisdom of the system.
  • Expose your mental models to the open air.
  • Stay humble. Stay a learner.
  • Honor and protect information.
  • Locate responsibility in the system.
  • Make feedback policies for feedback systems.
  • Pay attention to what is important, not to just what is quantifiable.
  • Go for the good of the whole.
  • Expand time horizons.
  • Expand thought horizons.
  • Expand the boundary of caring.
  • Celebrate complexity.
  • Hold fast to the goal of goodness.

She fit a lifetime of work in during her career, which ended too young in February of 2001. It goes without saying that she was a pioneer in the field of complexity and system dynamics.

Meadows participated in and pushed the walls of thinking out. She ushered in an era of new technology capabilities and builds.

All while providing more depth of awareness and organising structure to find articulation in the perpetually ephemeral world of the dynamics of systems science.

Meadows Taxonomy of Change
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