Humility – Probably the most important system change principle. Since systems are complex, dynamic and adaptive, we should never be too sure that we will get the desired outcome. We can’t know what all the system effects of a specific change will be.
Trial and Error – Very closely related to humility. Since we can’t predict an exact outcome, often we have to try solutions and observe what happens. This means changes should be done on a small scale and locally before incorporating them in the entire system.
Diversity – Also related to humility. Since we don’t know what will be the best solution, it is beneficial to have a wide diversity of solutions and systems, rather than forcing all systems to be the same.
Competition is a useful way in selecting system solutions that seem to work better than others.
Adaptation – Systems will adapt to any changes made to them. It should be expected.
Feedback – Since systems adapt to the changes made to them, feedback should always be a part of any solution for change.
Hierarchy – Systems (especially complex ones) make use of hierarchy. (Cells are a part of organelles, which create organs, which form an organism.) There are several advantages to this, including limiting the overall complication of the system and creating stable building blocks to explore new solutions.
Modeling – System models are for understanding, NOT making specific predictions. Since complex systems are dynamic, adaptive, unpredictable and often very dependent on initial conditions, specific prediction in models can be difficult. However, you can still gain perspectives, find more stable states, and learn about system principles through models. It is similar to predicting that it will be cold in the winter vs. predicting a specific temperature on a specific day.