Dancing With Systems

While doing a search for systems thinking related sites, I stumbled across an article Dancing with Systems by the late Donella Meadows, reflecting back on her long experience with systems thinking and systems thinkers. I can identify with many things in the article, so I find it hard to choose an appropriate quote. I chose the one below, as it has some relevance to the current elections in the US, soaring oil prices, as well as, in my opinion, a lack of feedback driven policies in the Netherlands. Also, I and others are currently struggling to explain feedback driven policies in organisations.

Make feedback policies for feedback systems.

President Jimmy Carter had an unusual ability to think in feedback terms and to make feedback policies. Unfortunately he had a hard time explaining them to a press and public that didn’t understand feedback.

He suggested, at a time when oil imports were soaring, that there be a tax on gasoline proportional to the fraction of US oil consumption that had to be imported. If imports continued to rise the tax would rise, until it suppressed demand and brought forth substitutes and reduced imports. If imports fell to zero, the tax would fall to zero.

The tax never got passed.

Imagine for a moment: what would have happened now with respect to oil if this policy got passed 25 years ago?

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