Solutions in isolation:problems become worse!

In most companies, a  lot of improvement efforts are given short term results but not sustainable in the long term. Time, money and effort is spend without a clear view on the future. When after a certain time the problem is coming back or becomes bigger than before, frustration  becomes the rule and more time and money is spend by decisions and actions taken in a panic way : but again without sustainable results .

The main cause is that solutions to a problem are designed and implemented in ISOLATION, without thinking on the unpredictable consequences that the solution can given, without thinking about the impact on all the players of the organization, without thinking about external influences. We are focussed on root-cause and are not aware that the cause is a network of different interrelated elements which influences each other: the problem is caused by a dynamic behavior of a system. It’s therefore important to visualize this system and it’s dynamic. This is systems thinking and systems mapping.

Mapping the system gives us a clear image what is going on, and it is a good starting point for open discussions, to see the different relations and  to propose interventions after a thorough analysis: SEE THE BIG PICTURE BEFORE YOU ACT !

I will demonstrate this with a reality case, and explain to you the system-map below.

In a production unit, there is a shortage of employees due to budget reasons. Because there is a lot of work everywhere, some employees of this unit with the most experience are assigned temporarily to other departments.This situation is leading towards low productivity in manufacturing department. Despite the fact that management is helping by doing employees duties and training is given in lean methods and productivity improvement methods the situation becomes worse.


Let’s have a look at the systems dynamic map and the different re-inforcement loops :


1.reinforcement loop R1

Due to less availability of employees, there is less productivity and more managers are doing employee duties. Due to the lack of management resources, there is less supervision on and more employees are coming late at work , which is leading to less availability of employees.

2.reinforcement loop R2

To solve the lack of productivity more overtime is done, which is leading to less time with family and less morale with the employees .This is leading to have more employees coming late at work and less more availability.

3.reinforcement loop R3

When motivation continue to decrease , employees will being stressed , have burnouts and leaving sick , with again  a decrease of availability and therefore output.

4.reinforcement loop R4

Topmanagement is convinced that training in productivity methods will improve the situation…But the more people attend the training, the less are available at work.

I hope that this example gives you a good sense on how different actions in isolation , can create new problems and make the whole situation a big mess .

Systems thinking and systems dynamics will help you to have a view of the whole picture and to see the behavior of the system .There will not be ONE solution, but the combination of different small interventions  will change the behavior and improve the situation.

Solutions in isolation:problems become worse! 5.00/5 - 1 x gestemd