Mary Rose Cook's notebook

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Thinking in Systems, Daniella H Meadows:

President Jimmy Carter had an unusual ability to think in feedback terms and to make feedback policies. Unfortunately, he had a hard time explaining them to a press and pbulic and didn’t understand feedback.

Carter was trying to deal with a flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico. He suggested that nothing could be done about that immigration as long as there was a great gap in opportunity and living standards between the United States and Mexico. Rather than spending the money on border guards and barriers, he said, we should spend money helping to build the Mexican economy, and we should continue to do so until the immigration stopped.

That never happened.

You can imagine why a dynamic, self-adjusting feedback system cannot be governed by a static, unbending policy. It’s easier, more effective, and usually much cheaper, to design policies that change depending on the state of the system. Especially when there are great uncertainties, the best policies not only contain feedback loops, but meta-feedback loops - loops that alter, correct and expand loosp. These are policies that design learning into the management process.