Highlights first synced by [[Readwise]] [[May 1st, 2023]]

  • Because of feedback delays within complex systems, by the time a problem becomes apparent it may be unnecessarily difficult to solve. — A stitch in time saves nine. (Location 202)

  • According to the competitive exclusion principle, if a reinforcing feedback loop rewards the winner of a competition with the means to win further competitions, the result will be the elimination of all but a few competitors. — For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath (Mark 4:25) or (Location 204)

  • A diverse system with multiple pathways and redundancies is more stable and less vulnerable to external shock than a uniform system with little diversity. — Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (Location 208)

  • If you look at that definition closely for a minute, you can see that a system must consist of three kinds of things: elements, interconnections, and a function or purpose. (Location 296)

  • Is there anything that is not a system? Yes—a conglomeration without any particular interconnections or function. (Location 307)

  • THINK ABOUT THIS How to know whether you are looking at a system or just a bunch of stuff: A) Can you identify parts? … and B) Do the parts affect each other? … and C) Do the parts together produce an effect that is different from the effect of each part on its own? … and perhaps D) Does the effect, the behavior over time, persist in a variety of circumstances? (Location 331)

  • Many of the interconnections in systems operate through the flow of information. Information holds systems together and plays a great role in determining how they operate. (Location 352)

  • The best way to deduce the system’s purpose is to watch for a while to see how the system behaves. If a frog turns right and catches a fly, and then turns left and catches a fly, and then turns around backward and catches a fly, the purpose of the frog has to do not with turning left or right or backward but with catching flies. (Location 363)

  • Keeping sub-purposes and overall system purposes in harmony is an essential function of successful systems. (Location 389)

  • Information contained in nature … allows us a partial reconstruction of the past.… The development of the meanders in a river, the increasing complexity of the earth’s crust … are information-storing devices in the same manner that genetic systems are.… Storing information means increasing the complexity of the mechanism. (Location 421)

  • Similarly, a company can build up a larger workforce by more hiring, or it can do the same thing by reducing the rates of quitting and firing. These two strategies may have very different costs. (Location 497)

  • You can adjust the drain or faucet of a bathtub—the flows—abruptly, but it is much more difficult to change the level of water—the stock—quickly. Water can’t run out the drain instantly, even if you open the drain all the way. The tub can’t fill up immediately, even with the inflow faucet on full blast. A stock takes time to change, because flows take time to flow. That’s a vital point, a key to understanding why systems behave as they do. Stocks usually change slowly. They can act as delays, lags, buffers, ballast, and sources of momentum in a system. Stocks, especially large ones, respond to change, even sudden change, only by gradual filling or emptying. (Location 500)

  • Stocks generally change slowly, even when the flows into or out of them change suddenly. Therefore, stocks act as delays or buffers or shock absorbers in systems. (Location 506)

  • Systems thinkers see the world as a collection of stocks along with the mechanisms for regulating the levels in the stocks by manipulating flows. That means system thinkers see the world as a collection of “feedback processes.” (Location 543)

New highlights added [[May 4th, 2023]] at 10:36 AM

  • The time it takes for an exponentially growing stock to double in size, the “doubling time,” equals approximately 70 divided by the growth rate (expressed as a percentage). Example: If you put $100 in the bank at 7% interest per year, you will double your money in 10 years (70 ÷ 7 = 10). (Location 683)

  • Watch out! If you see feedback loops everywhere, you’re already in danger of becoming a systems thinker! (Location 687)

  • When someone tells you that population growth causes poverty, you’ll ask yourself how poverty may cause population growth. (Location 691)