Reference #354: Thinking in Systems


Event-level analysis provides no predictive power. It also gives you no ability to change the behaviour of the system. Behaviour-based models can be good at predicting near-term performance, but bad at predicting long-term performance, and bad at providing guidance on how to improve system performance.

Consider, for example, an economic model, which may with reasonable accuracy predict a country's near-term economic situation but will fail to provide guidance on how to increase or decrease inflation. This is because behaviour-based models typically overemphasise the role of flows and underemphasise the role of stocks in system behaviour.

Since flows are affected by changing levels of stocks, you can not understand fully a dynamic system without knowledge of those stocks. The focus on flows also leads to many to search for relationships that don't exist. Flows don't necessarily bear a stable relationship with any other flow — they change instead in response to stocks.

Meadows. Thinking in Systems, 2008. (89-90)

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