A Systems Archetype is a well defined structure, exhibits a distinct behavior over time, frequently occurs across multiple disciplines of science and has well defined strategies for dealing with the implications of the structure.
Understanding Systems Archetypes is valuable because we can study their structure and implications apart from specific situations and develop generic learning which is relevant to many specific situations. Ludwig von Bertalanffy [Davidson 1983] proposed that the same basic structures operated across all disciplines, and if one learned how these structures operated one could transfer much of their learning from one discipline to another. When moving from one discipline to another one would simply have to learn the structures that were operating and the labels on the elements of the structure. When I first read this I considered it most profound. Then, after pondering it for quite some time it became apparent that of course this is true, for the disciplines are a contrivance of man, not nature. As such, with one universe, of course there is only one set of structures that operate.
The Balancing Loop and Reinforcing Loop presented in the Causal Loop Diagram article combine in numerous ways defining the Systems Archetypes.
The benefit of being aware that a System Archetype is operating is that you pretty much know how things are likely to play out. You also know the most appropriate approaches for dealing with the structure that's operating. While the qualitative approach is not a sound substitute for quantitative evaluation, there are times when due to expediency it is the most appropriate course of action. Sometimes you only need first aid rather than surgery.
This learning thread presents each of the known Systems Archetypes in terms of their structure, patterns of behavior and strategies for addressing them, as well as numerous examples.
- Systems Archetype IM-1655
- Reinforcing & Balancing Causal Loops IM-327
- Reinforcing & Balancing Stock & Flow IM-353
- Limits to Results
- Balancing Loop with Delay
- Drifting Goals
- Fixes that Fail
- Shifting the Burden
- Success to the Successful
- Limits to Growth
- Attractiveness Principle
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Accidental Adversaries
- Growth and Underinvestment
- Growth and Underinvestment with a Drifting Standard
Pieces of the following need to be used to extend the existing archetypes.
- Software Acquisition Archetypes Geoff implemented these and they need to be integrated.
- Success in Acquisition: Using Archetypes to Beat the Odds
- Patterns of Failure: Acquisition Archetypes
- Adventures in Wonderland
- System Archetype Basics: From Story to Structure by Daniel Kim and Virginia Anderson
- System Archetypes by Bill Braun
- Systems Archetypes from Learning Organization Practitioners Network
- Systems Archetypes and Systems Thinking
- Systems Thinking Archetypes (Generic Structures) by Robert E. Powell
- Узаемадзеянне структур Сусвету Belorussian translation of Archetypes: Interaction Structures of the Universe
- Towards the definition and use of a core set of archetypal structures in systems dynamics by Eric Wolsetnholme
- Uncommon Sense: The Life and Thought of Ludwig von Bertalanffy by Mark Davidson
- Bulgarian Translation of Archetypes: Interaction Structures of the Universe courtesy of the Cloud Lakes Team
- Success in Acquisition: Using Archetypes to Beat the Odds by William Novak and Linda Levine
- The Organizational Maturity model (OMM) from SCiO
Systems Thinking World Discussions
Systems Thinking World Q&A * Gene Bellinger