What can we learn from Systems Thinking about tackling the 'Boom and Bust' cycle identified in our example system, a nature-based coastal tourist resort?
In Systems terminology, 'Boom and Bust' is often called 'Overshoot and Collapse'. It is a very common pattern of behaviour in Systems.
Image (edited): 'Creating a Sustainable Society: Dynamics of Renewable Resources' by John Sterman
John Cabot, exploring Newfoundland in 1497, noted fish (cod) so thick that they practically blocked his ship.
'Probably all the great fisheries are inexhaustible; that is to say that nothing we do seriously affects the number of fish.' - Thomas Henry Huxley, 1883
90% of the world's fish stocks are reported as fully exploited or overexploited and, thus, requiring effective and precautionary management. Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Report (2018)
Identifying common patterns of System behaviour increases understanding and provides access to established solutions for fixing similar problems. That's because systems with similar feedback structures produce similar dynamic behaviours. Identifying such feedback structures is one of the key skills of a Systems Thinker.
There are many systems that follow the 'Boom and Bust', or 'Overshoot and Collapse', pattern. Here are examples of measures that can help to bring such a system towards sustainability:
'Running the same system harder or faster will not change the pattern as long as the structure is not revised.'
― Dennis Meadows, The Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update