Systems Thinking LO18547
Wed, 1 Jul 1998 08:45:33 -0500

Replying to LO18535

Jody asked
>How does your organization use systems thinking to handle ongoing

We have an internally developed systems thinking workshop which perhaps
200 people have attended over the course of a couple years. Thus, the
practice of systems thinking is at least on the radar screen for quite a
number of people, even though they make not consider themselves active
practitioners. Recently a portion of the human resources committee wanted
to take a look at the issue of stafff retention in our information
technology group. 'Retention' served as the 'presenting symptom', but
about an hour into the conversation (and this happens very frequently in
my experience) we concluded that the original center of focus was not
particularly 'rich' and that Employee Satisfaction offered a much more
powerful focus for our attention.

We developed a causal loop diagram showing how heavily Retention depends
on Employee Satisfaction and how many things, in turn, influence Employee
Satisfaction. The model is not fabulous, but it allowed us to capture our
understanding of 'the system', and convey it to a larger group. The model
also allowed us to show how the several interventions we proposed worked
in concert, and how choosing to implement only one of them would (a)
likely not provide the desired change in 'the system's' performance, and
(b) probably make things worse over the long haul.

Michael A

Michael Ayers Voice (612) 733-5690 FAX (612) 737-7718
  IT Educ & Perf Svcs\3M Center 224-2NE-02\PO Box 33224
  St Paul MN 55133-3224
"Sometimes the right question is, 'Are we asking the right question?'"
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