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Thinking in Systems

By: Donella H. Meadows
Narrated by: Tia Rider Sorensen
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Publisher's Summary

In the years following her role as the lead author of the international best seller, Limits to Growth - the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet - Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001. 

Thinking in Systems is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem-solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute's Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing listeners how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life. 

Some of the biggest problems facing the world - war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation - are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking. 

While listeners will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds listeners to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner. 

In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps listeners avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2008 Sustainability Institute (P)2018 Chelsea Green Publishing

What listeners say about Thinking in Systems

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    4 out of 5 stars

Slow but worth your patience

The book assumes no prior knowledge. So someone familiar with systems thinking might fast forward a lot. Good news, for some, there is no maths in this book.
This is skilfully written, describes familiar scenarios and examples to explain the concepts.
A simple system is explained as a ‘stock’ with in-flows, out-flows and feedback. Then layered goals, constraints and interventions. With the later part covering multiple interacting systems.
I found the insights quite thought provoking.

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5 people found this helpful

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Great book

It can easily be a new bible for anyone interested in sustainability, but this book should really be a new bible, a roadmap for our society. The last parts of this book are especially touching, make you hope that people like the author can really transform our society

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2 people found this helpful

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Awesome read

This book deserves to be required reading for all tertiary level students in all disciplines. The concepts contained within it are extremely transferable, and demand to be read more than once for deeper understanding. The author has presented extremely complex ideas in a concise, easy to follow manner.
This book is a gift - I feel extremely privileged to have stumbled upon it.

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a worthy listen

struggled at times to grasp concepts but this is due to my own limitations. will listen again to learn more.

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Good primer, but nothing life changing

This is a good invite into think more holistically about things in general.
The book is full of stories and examples, which some I would argue that they are relevant, while others not so much.

It is an enjoyable ride nonetheless, definitely better than many other books, but definitely not life changing either.

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loved it

very well written, and easy to follow with lots of modern day and historical facts and situations woven in so that it is easy to understand and follow. this would be an excellent book to read along with other systems thinking theory, understanding of complex systems and even safety sciences. this will definitely be something I will listen to again

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  • 17-05-2020

A very important book

An absolute must for anyone regardless of what discipline or professional background you have. This book helped me understand why Adam Smith’s butchers interest and division of labour is essentially faulted. An excellent and illuminating read.

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decent enough high level overview

good concepts but just wish it had some meat around model design and examples. still, a good start.

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A mind-opening read

A great way to understand how you should recognise and incorporate systems thinking in your daily life. Questions so complex yet so simple are described is clear terms for all of us to ponder on. A book to listen, think and relisten to over and over.

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Required reading for all change agents

Read and understand this then apply it to your area of social or environmental change with humility for this is the only way we can truly understand the complexity of the world and best put our energy to use on the best systemic lever points.

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