Limits to Growth
A Limits to Growth structure consists of a Reinforcing
Loop, the growth of which, after some success, is offset by
a action of a Balancing Loop.
In the above structure growing action adds
to the results. The results then add to the growing
action. This is the reinforcing loop. While this loop is operating
the results interact with a limiting factor to add
to the a slowing action. The slowing action then
subtracts from the results.
In situations where a Limits to Growth structure is operating
the reinforcing loop generally operates for some time with little
apparent limiting action from the balancing loop. Once the results
reach a certain level the slowing action begins to limit
the growth that was being experienced. Since the focus had been
on the reinforcing loop, which was probably producing something
desirable, the slow down in results are usually confusing.
The normal action is to place more emphasis on the growing
action, which then tends to produce no more results,
only more confusion. The Limits to Growth structure reaches a
point where the results are actually inhibiting further
- The best defense is a good offense. As defined in the effective
strategies for the Reinforcing Loop,
if there is a Reinforcing Loop operating start looking for what
is going to become a limiting factor, and remove it before
it even has a chance to it to create a substantial impact on
- If the structure is already at a stage where the limiting
factor is interacting with results to limit them the
- Alter the limiting factor in such a way that it no
longer interacts with the results to create a slowing
- Find a way to disconnect the results from the slowing
action so it no longer exists.
- Disconnect the slowing action from the results
so it can have no affect on results.
Areas of Concern
- There are often multiple limits to deal with which leads
to an Attractiveness Principle.
- It is possible that limited shared resources are the source
of the limiting factor leading to a Tragedy
of the Commons.
- The limit may be insufficient capacity which leads to Growth and Underinvestment with a Fixed
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Copyright © 2004 Gene Bellinger