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    Business Analysis of the U.S. Army

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    Take a look at feedback loops in the U.S. army and. identify at least one balancing loop and one reinforcing loop. The ultimate goal of this assignment is to answer the following questions:
    1. What are the effects of these feedback loops on organizational effectiveness over the short and long term?
    2. What changes in strategy or operations would you recommend in light of your analysis?

    Background Information

    While most of models of organizational diagnosis that we have been exposed to in this class recognize the existence of feedback loops, none of them really offer a thorough discussion of the complexity of feedback or how it can be used to promote organizational improvement and development. To get a better view of this topic, we turn to the work on systems thinking and organizational learning. Much of this literature is based on the work of Peter Senge whose seminal book The Fifth Discipline popularized the notion that organizations are capable of learning.

    This first reading is quite long and reviews much of the work in the area of learning organizations. Read it all if you like, but the most relevant part of the paper for this course is part VI, which covers systems thinking:
    Larsen, K., McInerney, C., Nyquist, C., Santos, A., & Silsbee, D. (1996) Learning Organizations (Part VI: Systems Thinking) Retrieved from http://home.nycap.rr.com/klarsen/learnorg/

    Gene Bellinger has assembled an impressive website that deals extensively with feedback loops and systems thinking. In this next reading, he explains how to graphically depict feedback loops to get a better idea of how one part of the system affects another. He distinguishes between reinforcing loops and balancing loops, which have different effects on the system as a whole.

    Bellinger, G. (2004) Introduction to systems thinking. Retrieved from http://www.systems-thinking.org/intst/int.htm
    In this next reading, Bellinger build on the idea of reinforcing and balancing loops to offer a model for how an analysis of feedback loops can translate into identifying problems which can then be addressed through the organization's strategic planning process.
    Bellinger, G. (2004) theWay of systems. Retrieved from http://www.systems-thinking.org/theWay/theWay.htm
    If you are still having trouble grasping the idea of feedback loops, you may want to look at this additional Bellinger site:
    Bellinger, G. (2004) Archetypes. Retrieved from http://www.systems-thinking.org/arch/arch.htm

    This is the home page for the extensive site from which much of the material for this module was taken. http://www.systems-thinking.org/index.htm

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    STEP 1

    During Hurricane Katrina the US Army had reinforcing loops and balancing loops. The positive loop indicates the demand for the services during the Katrina crises, there was greater demand for services and more services were provided in quick succession which satisfied the needs of Katrina victims and led to a greater need for services during the rescue operation. The growth in demand for the services that the army provided was caused by Katrina and the decision of the US Government to call in the army.

    There was a demand for Army service and the availability of these services, there was a positive feedback loop. For example, US. Army Black Hawk helicopters delivered relief supplies to Deweyville, there was demand for more such services and so US Army Chinook helicopters were used to airlift ready to eat meals to Livingston. There was more reinforcement and as more services were demanded, the Army and Air National Guard units from around the country were sent troops to New Orleans to help with the evacuation and recovery of the city after Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that occurred after it.

    The reinforcement loop in the US Army was very clear, there was demand for their assistance and the US Army took up more and more responsibilities. The demand came from the damage that was caused by Katrina and the availability of the services were from the different Units of the Army. For ...

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