Systems Thinking

Part 1

Read the scenario as well as the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the Meadows text, the Cathon article on the Learning Organization, the Zemke article on Systems Thinking, and the other material required, and then respond to the prompts that follow.

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Scenario

As an expert in systems analysis, you’ve received an e-mail from the chief financial officer (CFO) of XYZ Manufacturers to discuss a potential consulting project. The CFO is vaguely familiar with the concept of systems thinking but isn’t sure it could be successfully applied to her fast-paced, global business.

  • Based on your knowledge of systems thinking and the learning organization, reply to the CFO’s enquiry by explaining at least three challenges of managing complex organizations and how and why effective systems thinking can help improve their performance. Support your response and reasoning with explicit and appropriate references to the readings and with at least two other theoretical frameworks or academic references about systems thinking and practice. (2 -3 paragraphs)
  • Having learned about systems thinking and the learning organization, and reviewed at least one other theoretical framework or academic reference about general systems thinking and practice, give at least two examples, from your experiences in organizations, in which the application of systems thinking could have helped the organization become more effective. Be clear in explaining which specific principles and concepts from systems thinking could have helped in the examples you choose, and explain how and why. (4 – 5 paragraphs)

Part 2

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Read the “Opportunity Consultants, Inc., Case Study” and then respond to the following prompts:

  • Using a systems approach, analyze the performance of Opportunity Consultants, Inc. and develop a case-specific “effect-cause-effect logic” tree diagram using the 5-Whys analytic tool. See the Rubric for details on what this diagram should contain.
  • Write a summary description of your diagram with specific recommendations for improving the club’s performance that are linked to your diagram analysis. (1–2 pages)

Part 3

Read the “Baria Planning Solutions Case Study” and “Facilitating Systemic Thinking in Business Classes” documents, and then respond to the following prompts:

  • Using a formal systems diagramming approach, analyze Baria’s performance and develop a robust “effect-cause-effect logic” tree diagram using the 5-Whys tool, as in Part One.
  • Create an appropriate, simple causal loop diagram (CLD) that incorporates relevant and logical feedback loops to capture the fundamental system behaviors, outcomes, and causes in the “Baria Planning Solutions Case Study.” See the Rubric for details on what this diagram should contain.
  • Write a summary description, including specific recommendations, that links directly to your 5-Whys and CLD analyses for improving Baria’s sales support operations and organization as a whole. (1–2 pages)

Part 4

Read the “Bayonne Packaging, Inc., Case Study” and “The System Archetypes” documents, and then respond to the following prompts:

  • Using a formal systems diagramming approach, analyze Bayonne’s organizational performance and develop a robust “effect-cause-effect logic” tree diagram using the 5-Whys tool, as in Part One.
  • Create a robust causal loop diagram (CLD) that incorporates appropriate causal loop logic in the analysis and that also identifies common system archetype patterns within the diagram. This diagram should describe fundamental system behaviors and outcomes.
  • Write a summary description, including specific recommendations, that links directly to your CLD analysis (which includes embedded archetype relationships) for improving the packaging company’s operations and the organization as a whole. (1–2 pages)

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