Systems thinking and constraint management

Discussion: Shared Practice: Systems Thinking and Constraint Management

[T]he market is not truly free if whole categories of costs—the loss of resources, the loss of cultural diversity, and ecological diversity—are not recognized and valued.
Shireman, W. (1999, p 461).

Where are a manager’s priorities—are they to the bottom line or to a complex set of stakeholders? The notion that businesses can both earn a profit and protect and enhance the natural environment was a radical one when William Shireman and others proposed it in the 1990s. In “Business Strategies for Sustainable Profits: Systems Thinking in Practice,” Shireman (1999) makes a case for this approach through the analysis of three global companies.

In the years since Shireman wrote this article, consider whether his argument still holds. Think of your own experiences and of an organization with which you are familiar. Consider whether the organization could adopt a “win-win” systems solution, such as that Shireman promotes. Consider any constraints and how they could be overcome.

By Day 3, post the following:

  • A brief description of the organization you selected and whether it has adopted a systems solution
  • An explanation of whether Shireman’s systems approach would be successful for the organization you selected, and why
  • An assessment of whether you think Shireman’s argument is relevant in today’s business environment (Justify your response.)

Read through your colleagues’ posts and by Day 5 and respond to two or more of your colleagues in the following way:

  • Suggest a resource that you think would help your colleague’s organization adopt a systems solution and explain why the resource is helpful in this particular situation.
  • Compare your organization to your colleague’s and explain why you think there are similarities or differences in how each organization approaches systems thinking or the extent to which each has adopted a systems solution
  • Provide an insight you gained by reviewing your colleague’s example.
  • Offer a contrasting viewpoint of whether Shireman’s argument is relevant and why you hold that perspective.

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