2.4. From Events to Dynamics and Feedback – Drug-related Crime

A shift of mind (from event-oriented thinking to feedback systems thinking) is not easy to achieve. The best way to make progress is through examples of feedback systems thinking applied to real-world situations. Instead of hot water showers we now consider something entirely different – drug-related crime. A typical description of the problem, by the victims of crime, might be as follows.

Drugs are a big worry for me, not least because of the crimes that addicts commit to fund their dependency. We want the police to bust these rings and destroy the drugs. They say they're doing it and they keep showing us sacks of cocaine that they've seized, but the crime problem seems to be getting worse.

Expressed this way drug-related crime appears as a series of disturbing events. There is a concern about crime among the members of the community affected by it. They want action backed-up with evidence of police attempts to fix the problem by busting rings and seizing drugs. But, despite these efforts, more crimes are happening. The feedback systems thinker re-interprets the description and draws out those aspects concerned with performance through time (dynamics) that suggest an underlying feedback structure, one or more interacting feedback loops, capable of generating the dynamics of interest. Of particular significance are puzzling dynamics, performance through time that people experience but do not want or intend. Some ...

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