Systems thinking

Systems thinking is a design approach that accounts for interdependence between and collective evolution of system actors. There are many tools to facilitate systems thinking, including diagrams illustrating:

  • Behavior over time
  • Graphical function
  • Policy structure
  • Causal loop
  • Structure-behavior relationships
  • Systems archetype

There are 10 systems archetypes defining common behavior patterns. These archetypes highlight the structure of the underlying system being evaluated. These archetypes can be used to identify root-causes of reoccurring issues or alert you of future unintended consequences:

  1. Limits to growth
  2. Burden shifting
  3. Eroding goals
  4. Escalation
  5. Success to the successful
  6. Tragedy of the commons
  7. Fixes that fail
  8. Growth and underinvestment
  9. Accidental adversaries
  10. Attractiveness principle