Interaction Structures of the Universe
This article is essentially a continuation of Systems Thinking: An Operational Perspective of the Universe in which the Reinforcing and Balancing structures were developed. This article develops a set of frequently recurring structures resulting from various combinations of Reinforcing and Balancing structures. This article essentiallyrepresents an elaboration of the work of Senge (1990) and Pegasus Communications (1989-1996).
Note that all the archetype examples that were previously wired into this article are now accessible via theWay which is considered to provide a more comprehensive treatment of the archetypes, as well as a few additional ones, and uses the "+" and "-" influence notation.
|Accidental Adversaries |Fixes That Fail |Shifting the Burden |
|Balancing Loop |Growth and Underinvestment |Success to the Successful|
|Drifting Goals |Limits to Success |Tragedy of the Commons |
|Escalation |Reinforcing Loop | |
The Accidental Adversaries structure is acomposed of three reinforcing loops and two balancing loops. Overall system growth is driven by a global reinforcing loop. Two local reinforcing loops create balancing loops which then limit the growth of the overall system. This is by far not one of the easiest archetypes to understand.
The loop consisting of A's Activity toward B, B's Success, B's Activity toward A, and A's Successrepresents a cooperative reinforcing loop between A and B. At the same time that A and B are taking actions to enhance each others success they are taking actions to promote their own success. This activity is represented by two inner reinforcing structures represented by A's Activity toward A influencing A's Success which in turn influences A's Activity toward A, and B's Activity toward B influencingB's Success which in turn influences B's Activity toward B.
This local self-enhancement activity would be fine except that the locally directed activities by A and B have an unintended consequences. A's Activity toward A inhibits B's Success. This in turn influences a decline in B's Activity toward A inhibiting A's Success. The inhibition of A's Success further decreases A's Activity toward B.This represents a balancing loop which limits the overall intended cooperative efforts between A and B. This balancing loop is mirrored in the actions by B where B's Activity toward B inhibits A's Success. This in turn influences a decline in A's Activity toward B inhibiting B's Success. The inhibition of B's Success further decreases B's Activity toward A.
This structure points out how myopiclocal activity, with the best of intentions, can lead to an overall limiting development of the global system, and actually inhibit local development as well.
Balancing Loop (^)
The Balancing Loop attempts to move some current state to a desired or reference state though some action. The structure may begin with the current state greater or less than the desired state, in which case thecurrent state may approach the desired state from above or below.
The Desired State interacts with the Current State to produce a Gap. The larger the Gap the stronger the influence to produce Action. The Action taken then moves the Current State toward the Desired State reducing the Gap. When the Action succeeds in moving the Current State to the Desired State the Gap is reduced to zero and...