Rainbows and Systems

We were greeted this evening at the beach with a spectacular sunset, and a double rainbow.

I’ve been engrossed in Donella Meadow’s “Thinking in Systems – A Primer”. It came across my readings multiple times in the last few weeks, and it has been an incredible read. I’ve been reading some of the material her foundation’s website has curated while waiting for the book to arrive, and maybe I’ve been primed for the primer 🙂

Watching the rainbow got me musing about how we can be so carried away with its beauty while perhaps forgetting that it’s an optical illusion or that it’s also an indicator of the weather system going through a change.

Dana repeatedly makes the point that systems are all around us, and we take them for granted. Most of us get captivated by events, the daily news being an example of our unending fascination with them. A smaller number tend to focus on behaviors. Academics/ academic types zone in on the elements that make up the system, and fewer consider the relationships between the elements. Even fewer think about the functions/goals of the system (and perhaps rightly so, or else we’d get overwhelmed).  If we are really interested in the system we want to bring a change about, Dana’s recommendation (at least in my dumb understanding first reading) is to start on the mindset, the questions we should really ask about understanding the system, what she calls paradigm upsetting questions.