Balancing Loop

A balancing loop attempts to move some current state (the way things are) to a desired state (goal or objective) though some action (whatever is done to reach the goal).The balancing loop is one of the two foundational structures of systems thinking, the other being the Reinforcing Loop. A balancing loop is representative of any situation where there is a goal or an objective and action is taken to achieve that goal or objective. If I decide I want to increase sales by 10% I've just created a balancing loop. If I decide to develop a new product I've just created a balancing loop. The instances of this structure are numerous.

The desired state interacts with the current state to produce a gap. The desired state is considered to be fixed during this consideration. The gap created by the difference between the desired state and the current state is really the motivation for action, and the larger the gap the grater the tendency to produce action. The action taken then adds to the current state. The current state subtracts from the gap, thus reducing it. When the action succeeds in moving the current state to a point where it is equal to the desired state the gap is reduced to zero and there is no more motivation for action.

Effective Strategies

Areas of Concern

The balancing loop is one of the simplest structures and seldom ever occurs in isolation from additional influences. The most prevalent extensions of the balancing loop are identified in the following areas of concern.


The following examples are intended to provide some specific instances in which a balancing structure is the primary structure.

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