Back to quotes table-of-contents

From Smart Swarm
Unlike our systems, which are tuned for efficiency, the termites' systems have been tuned for robustness, which they demonstrate by building mounds that are constantly self-healing.

We should think of it [the termite mound] as a dynamic system that balances forces both inside and outside its walls to create the right environment for the termites.

From The Fifth Discipline
In systems thinking it is an axiom that every influence is both a cause and an effect. Nothing is ever influenced in just one direction.

From The Mind of War
…in order to determine the consistency of any new system we must construct or uncover another system beyond it… One cannot determine the character or nature of a system within itself. Moreover, attempts to do so lead to confusion and disorder.

From Becoming a Technical Leader
From working with systems, I have learned that the process of change is always organic.

From How To Use Conscious Purpose Without Wrecking Everything
If I design a system with no regard for the universe that surrounds it, I will have scanty knowledge of what can impact it. That is not a formula for success. To fit my system in to the larger system of systems around it, I must go to the next higher level of recursion, which is a frame of reference that encompasses my system and its environment—that is, the systems around it. What is involved is not simply survival of the fittest, but survival of the fitting-in-est, of that which fits in best.

Ignoring feedback merely means that the system will eventually experience a massive unpleasant surprise rather than a small unpleasant surprise.

From Surfing the Edge of Chaos
The defining feature of a complex adaptive system is its ability to learn.

From Managing the Design Factory
Whenever we see an intense need for communications it is typically a sign that the system has been incorrectly partitioned.

From Management 3.0
The Red Queen's Race is an evolutionary hypothesis describing that a complex system needs continuous improvement to simply maintain its current fitness, relative to the systems it is co-evolving with. Some scientists claim that the Red Queen's Race, or the principle of co-evolving species, is an even more important driver of evolution that any other kind of environmental change.

From Adapt - why success always starts with failure
Complexity is a problem only in tightly coupled systems.

From Thinking in Systems - A Primer
The system, to a large extent, causes its own behaviour.

This capacity of a system to make its own structure more complex is called self-organization.

Complex systems can evolve from simple systems only if there are stable intermediate forms.

From The End of Certainty
A nonequilibrium system may evolve spontaneously to a state of increased complexity.

From The Deming Route To Quality
Management works on the system, people work in the system.

From The Gift of Time
Jerry warns us that when a system that continues to change or that is in a changing environment is subjected to a fixed set of tests, it will inevitably over-adapt to those tests, leading to a higher probability of severe or surprising failures in the field. [James Bach]

I have become enormously skeptical of simple cause-and-effect explanations of any system behavior. [Tim Lister]

From Quality Software Management. Vol 4. Anticipating Change
Human systems don't change unless the individuals change, one at a time.

From Ackoff's Best
The essential properties of a system taken as a whole derive from the interactions of its parts, not their actions taken separately. Therefore, when a system is taken apart it loses its essential properties. Because of this - and this is the critical point - a system is a whole that cannot be understood by analysis.

An organisation is a system whose major deficiencies arise from the ways its parts interact, not from their actions taken separately.

From The Lean Startup
That which optimizes one part of the system necessarily undermines the system as a whole.

From Certain to Win
The insidious thing about entropy is that within a closed system, it always increases. In other words, closed systems run down.

From Consilience
In a system containing perfect internal order, such as a crystal, there can be no further change.

From An Introduction to General Systems Thinking
A "boundary" may not be infinitely thin, precisely so it can partake of both system and environment. Rather than separating, such a boundary connects.

From General Principles of Systems Design
The system responds more slowly in order to respond more surely.

From The Systems Bible
Systems don't appreciate being fiddled and diddled with. They will react to protect themselves.

Systems tend to oppose their own proper functions.

From The Road Less Travelled and Beyond
Systems inherently resist change.

From How Buildings Learn: Chapter 2 - Shearing Layers
The dynamics of the system will be dominated by the slow components, with the rapid components simply following along. Slow constrains quick; slow controls quick.

From Dr Deming
Lowering the number of defects in a stable system can only be achieved by working on the system.

Overadjustment of a stable system invariably makes things worse. This deserves a special name - tampering.