Official 54 Task 3

Systems Thinking

Companies have designed new and improved ways to solve problems within their organizations. Rather than seeking a simple cause and a direct solution to problems, companies are now using an approach called systems thinking. Systems thinking involves solving problems long-term by considering the "big picture," that is, how the interaction of many different parts of a large system may contribute to a problem. Companies use systems thinking because, even though it may produce complex solutions that take a long time to implement, it is an effective way to solve problems and has a greater long-term benefit to the company.

Narrator: Now listen to part of a lecture on this topic in a Business class.
Professor: For example, I used to work for a corporation that was having trouble with workers being absent a lot.
To help address this problem,
they hired a consultant,
who began by interviewing a lot of the workers and getting to know more about them.
She also researched other aspects of the company,
such as the types of eating facilities and health services it offered.
And what the consultant discovered was that many of the employees were missing work
not for an obvious, simple reason, like, say, lack of motivation,
but because of health problems.
Health problems that were the result of, or at least made worse by the combination of factors,
such as poor eating habits and lack of exercise.
The consultant concluded that since the company didn't offer exercise opportunities or healthy meals,
that this indirectly contributed to the workers' poor health.
The consultant proposed building a gym within the company office building for employees to use to exercise,
and also to offer a more nutritious menu in the cafeteria, which the company did.
But it took a while.
And after a year or so,
after the company had time to construct a gym and revise its cafeteria menu,
attendance began to improve, and continued to improve until it was no longer a problem.

Explain how the example discussed by the professor illustrates a system thinking approach to problem solving.