"Before you charge in to make things better, pay attention to the value of what’s already there". On Systems Thinking
We found this excellent quote on Twitter the other day, from Donella Meadows:
Don’t be an unthinking intervener and destroy the system’s own self-maintenance capacities. Before you charge in to make things better, pay attention to the value of what’s already there.
This very much feels like the way we already build up our current A/UK collaboratories (see Plymouth for current activity). We “deeply hang-out” with communities, networks, practitioners and creators in each area, and try to convene them imaginatively in groups which cut across existing boundaries.
But the point is to be alive to what local power has already built and achieved - and to then be, at best, an amplifier, or a idealistic stimulant. Precisely not “charging in”, as Meadows puts it.
The quote led us to a site called Complexity Labs, which seems to be a free-to-use web educational resource for people wanting to learn “systems thinking” - an approach which hovers around what we’re trying to do at the Alternative UK, but which we probably need to engage more sustainedly with.
What we like about the video below is that it addresses the question of how to innovate with systems thinking - something which, when you think of the everyday connotations of “the System”, may seem like a contradiction. Doesn’t a system aim to manage everything that happens within it? Isn’t it all encompassing?
Some interesting answers below: