Struggling to Resolve A Problem? Try “Systems Thinking,” Part I

Not too long ago, I was facilitating a discussion among a group of business owners. One person brought up a problem he was wrestling with in making a process in his company more efficient and effective. He was asking if anyone knew of a software program he could buy or have built that would help him resolve the issue.  The group asked him a lot of questions to try to understand what the real issue was because they suspected he might be defining the problem too narrowly. Brian Razzaque, CEO of VMT, LLC and Social Toaster then asked a question which actually stunned the CEO who raised the issue. He asked: “Of what system in your business is this issue a part?” Brian is a technology exec and expert. But he was not asking just about a technology system. He was asking about all the things that had to be done throughout the owner’s business-whether they were technology based or not-in order for greater efficiency and effectiveness to be accomplished. Brian told the group that almost always when there is dysfunction in an organization’s processes, that dysfunction arises from a broken system. The postscript to this story is that owner went back to his business and formed a group of employees involved in the whole system to better define the problem and come up with a “system” (small ‘s’) solution.