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Feedback Loops- Industrial Services of America


In this final Case of the Integrated Case Project, you will take a look at feedback loops in Industrial Service Industries of America, Inc. Identify one Balancing Loop and one Reinforcing Loop. Draw on the background readings from this module in constructing your diagnosis. Within each of these feedback loops there are opportunities for learning and improvement.


Present two cases in this paper. For each Feedback Loop (Balancing and Reinforcing) Make a Case for the Learning Opportunities.


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Organizational Learning Theory

Focused on the "primacy of the whole," systems thinking attempts to add an additional dimension to typical problem solving methods. Traditional methods of problem solving revolve around the scientific method-breaking a complex whole down to constituent pieces in order to understand the linear progression of the process. This two dimensional method builds an overly simplistic model of most reality. Instead, a three-dimensional model should be built-using circular causality-"where a variable is both the cause and effect of another [variable]," (Larsen, McInerney, Nyquist, Santos, & Silsbee, 1996). The notion of assessing an organization or system as a whole is daunting, but the methodic nature of the scientific method need not be abandoned completely. Only in realizing the added dimension of circular causality is required to more accurately conceptualize a realistic organization.

Take a typical two-dimensional representation of a purchasing and supply management process. Visually depicted, it might look something like this:

[Figure 1]

Suppliers and production entities providing input to the purchasing authority, the purchasing manager reaches a decision, and the transaction is completed. This doesn't capture the reality of the system, however.

Feedback Loops

The reality of such a system above is intuitively more complicated than the linear depiction shows. In the pursuit of greater understanding of such systems, people are forced to fragment the system-to take snapshots of events to study, (Larsen, McInerney, Nyquist, Santos, & Silsbee, 1996). Like a snapshot, each event is only accurate for a moment in time; it is an imperfect, two dimensional model of reality. With the addition of a third dimension-in this case, time-movies are a far better representation of reality. Thus systems thinking attempts to add this third dimension to the above system:

[Figure 2]

This depiction represents a reinforcing-type feedback loop in the purchasing the supply system. Production requirements add information to Supplier Availability. This output adds information to make a purchasing decision, which ultimately affects the production requirements-which again affect the output of the supplier. There are two types of these feedback loops: a balancing loop and a reinforcing loop.

Reinforcing ...

Solution Summary

Uses a case study on Industrial Services of America (ISA) to illustrate Systems Thinking theory and the idea of a learning organization. Feedback loop theory is focused on through definition and identification of balancing and reinforcing loops specific to ISA. 9 pages, APA format with references.