Peter Senge’s Limits to Growth Archetype

The image for a reinforcing loop is a snowball rolling downhill increasing in momentum and intensity.

The image for a Balancing Loop is a teeter-totter; happiness is keeping everything in balance.

Balancing Loop                                 Reinforcing Loop

Emerging Trend                                  Smooth Cycles

Brings Change                                    Preserves Stability

Exciting                                               Comforting

Conductors                                          Resisters[1]

Leadership                                          Management

Big Picture                                          Micro-managers

Vision                                                  Details

Proactive                                             Reactive

Responds to Potential                         Responds to Anxiety

Entrepreneurial                                    Institutional

Ready to gamble                                 Risk averse

Visionary Minority (16%)      Pragmatic Majority (84%)[2]

Ignores Limits                                     Prevents Competency Limits

Out of control                                      Under control

Pushes the trend                                  Thermostat Correction

[1]John Ortberg, God Is Closer Than You Think (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 139-141.

[2]Diffusion of innovations research segments a social system in a standard bell curve distribution based on signature differences in openness to change. This project combines innovators and early adopters into a visionary minority and middle adopters, late adopters and laggards into a pragmatic majority.





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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