Creating Value with Strategic Resources

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Puente, Luz Maria, and Hal Rabbino. 2003. Creating Value with Strategic Resources, The Connector: Connecting Systems Thinkers Around the World, 1(5), September-October.

Why do people have such a difficult time identifying the resources that create value for their organization? Our experience shows that this difficulty stems from a lack of understanding of how resources act together to create value.


The Dynamics of Our Relationship with Money

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James L., and Ned Hulbert. 2009. The Dynamics of Our Relationship with Money, White Paper, Belchertown, MA: Institute for Strategic Clarity, March.

We have been studying newly emerging agreements about money that are shifting human behavior in fundamental ways at a societal level. Based on our study of a number of authors on the topic of money, this paper seeks to synthesize their perspectives and to explore the dynamics of newly emerging systems of societal relationships at economic, political and cultural levels. By mapping these new relationships and behaviors, we hope to integrate and present them as helpful social insights.

The new ways of understanding and working with money have not yet been presented in a whole system picture. The presentation of a larger societal systems picture, along with analysis of the archetypal patterns behind it, can further dialogue among those concerned to understand and support a shift to a healthier social order.

Breaking Down Functional Blinders: A Systemic View of the Organizational Map

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James, and Annabel Membrillo. 1999. Breaking Down Functional Blinders: A Systemic View of the Organizational Map, The Systems Thinker, 10(10).

A manager of a capital equipment manufacturer once said, “We never realized how strong our functional blinders were. We get so into our own part of the business, we don’t even realize how we affect other groups.” This two-part series of articles describes a process called the Systemic View of the Organizational Map (SVOM).  SVOM builds on systems archetypes to help you assess organizational structures, departmental incentives, and goals. Unless you align an organization’s overall structure and goals with local incentives and goals, these structures can actually undermine the company’s ability to use the leverage points indicated by an archetype. This first article will illustrate how to identify organizational boundaries, departmental incentives and goals, and local perspectives.

Managing the Global to Local Paradox

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Rabbino, Hal and James Ritchie-Dunham. 2006. Managing the Global to Local Paradox, The Systems Thinker, 17(6), 8-10.

When reflecting on why certain systems behave the way they do, we regularly look for patterns of conflict among strategic resources within the organization.  Strategic resources are those resources that management knows are important to the survival and long-term health of the organization.  This conflict among strategic resources often seems to be due in great measure to what we call the “global to local paradox” of management practices.  The global to local paradox reflects the impact of the difference in philosophy in various levels of the organization as to what to do with strategic resources.

Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James, and Hal Rabbino. 2001. Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources, Chichester: Wiley.

In searching for the organizational ‘magic’ that makes some businesses thrive and other fail, management gurus, academic seers and business leaders strive to articulate a single reason for success. Managers are then faced with analyzing numerous findings and trying to integrate the best elements from each view that makes sense to them.

Managing from Clarity integrates the different views into one, streamlined structure which includes organizational as well as operational dynamics and moves it into the realm of strategic management. A host of tools and processes are presented, which offer leaders the means to make informed and deeply thought decisions on how best to balance multiple strategic issues. This books shows managers how to:  describe an individual’s mental map of the world as a basis for decision-making; clearly articulate and map key relationships across the entire organization; describe the basis for developing a common, systemic platform for communication of strategic issues; provide a rigorous and straightforward method for testing strategic hypotheses; identify the essential strategic resources within a firm; and so harness the enormous potential for performance improvement that comes from integrating and aligning the mental methods of the individuals of the firm around the global goals of the organization.

Toward a Dynamic Theory of Antibiotic Resistance

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Homer, Jack, James Ritchie-Dunham, Hal Rabbino, Luz Maria Puente, James Jorgensen, Kate Hendricks. 2000. Toward a Dynamic Theory of Antibiotic Resistance, System Dynamics Review, 16(4), 287-319.

Many common bacterial pathogens have become increasingly resistant to the antibiotics used to treat them. The evidence suggests that the essential cause of the problem is the extensive and often inappropriate use of antibiotics, a practice that encourages the proliferation of resistant mutant strains of bacteria while suppressing the susceptible strains. However, it is not clear to what extent antibiotic use must be reduced to avoid or reverse an epidemic of antibiotic resistance, and how early the interventions must be made to be effective. To investigate these questions, we have developed a small system dynamics model that portrays changes over a period of years to three subsets of a bacterial population— antibiotic-susceptible, intermediately resistant, and highly resistant. The details and continuing refinement of this model are based on a case study of Streptococcus pneumoniae, a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. The paper presents the model’s structure and behavior and identifies open questions for future work.

Designing High-leverage Strategies and Tactics

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Georgantzas, Nicholas, and James Ritchie-Dunham. 2003. Designing High-Leverage Strategies and Tactics, Human Systems Management, 22(1), 1-11.

Shingo’s breakthrough improves the way strategy researchers and managers talk about and design high-leverage strategies and tactics. Seeing production as a concatenated net of operations and processes not only negates the dysfunctional effects of Anthony’s paradigm, but also leads to a framework for strategic management (SM) as a well-specified net of strategies and tactics that deliver direct, dynamic and structural leverage. Anchored in system dynamics, systemic leverage (SL) analysis and synthesis can help managers align multiple, system goal aiming tactics that mix pure action with communication in corporate-, business- and functional-level strategy. The insight gained from SM’s net view with SL analysis brings modern management a step closer to the tradeoffs-free synthesis to direct managerial attention to the combined effects of direct, dynamic and structural leverage in strategy making.

Shifting the Fundamental Dynamics of Poverty

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Spann, R. Scott and James L. Ritchie-Dunham. 2008. Shifting the Fundamental Dynamics of Poverty, The Systems Thinker, 19(7), 6-10.  Reprinted as 2012. The Promise of Systems Thinking for Shifting Fundamental Dynamics, Reflections: The SoL Journal, 11(4), 11-17.

People in Guatemala – smart people – were working harder, hiring brighter people, raising more money, doing better projects, and get- ting improved results. And yet, what they sought to eliminate—poverty— was getting worse. So, we asked what we thought was a relatively straightfor- ward question: “Do you understand the fundamental dynamics of poverty?” As it turned out, no one had an answer— not the government, NGOs, local communities, or business leaders.

We set out with CARE Latin America to understand this complex problem.We engaged leaders of the national intelligence service and the military policy and leadership institutes, on the one hand, and members of the former guerrilla movement, on the other; leaders of the Catholic church and the leading Mayan philosophers; the head of the president’s commission on local economic development and leaders in local villages; in total, 30 diverse, sometimes historically con- flicted, perspectives.

A Simulation Exercise to Illustrate the Impact of an Enterprise System on a Service Supply Chain

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James L., Douglas J. Morrice, Edward G. Anderson, Jr., and James S. Dyer. 2007. A Simulation Exercise to Illustrate the Impact of an Enterprise System on a Service Supply Chain, INFORMS Transactions on Education, 7(3).

In this paper, we present a computer-based simulation exercise designed to help students understand the impact of an enterprise system on business performance in a service supply chain. The particular service supply chain simulated in the exercise is a wireless telecommunications firm.  In this exercise, students perform simulations to experience managing the supply chain of the telecommunications firm with and without an enterprise system. The simulator tracks their business performance. Then the results are used as the basis of discussion in a subsequent debriefing session. We describe the educational goals of the simulation exercise and how the exercise can be structured in order to achieve these goals.  The latter is illustrated by the use of the simulation exercise in a master’s level supply chain management course in the Red McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. The simulator includes realistic details. In fact, it is based on the extensive consulting experiences of the first author with two North American telecommunications firms. We describe the simulator in detail under the various scenarios, explain how it was validated, and provide the simulator equations in system dynamics format in Appendix B.

Balanced Scorecards, Mental Models, and Organizational Performance

Past-cast Series — Seeing relevance in earlier publications

Ritchie-Dunham, James. 2002. Balanced Scorecards, Mental Models, and Organizational Performance. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, Management Science and Information Systems, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.

Organizations are heavily investing in enterprise-wide information systems and performance scorecards intended to improve strategic decision making. However, there is a need for better evidence that using these technologies systematically improves organizational performance. To overcome the lack of experimental control when studying real firms, the current study investigates decision behavior within a realistic simulation of a wireless telephone company. A controlled experiment involving 118 MBA students found significant differences between two types of scorecards (financial vs. balanced) and two types of enterprise systems (fragmented vs. integrated) regarding the simulated firm’s long-term financial performance. The balanced scorecard positively affected decision makers’ mental models of how elements of the simulated firm dynamically interrelate, which led to improved performance. The integrated enterprise system had a positive effect on performance.  Unexpectedly, the number of stakeholders taken into consideration was positively associated with firm performance and was unaffected by the type of scorecard. These findings yield new insights into the effectiveness of scorecards and enterprise systems, and shed light on the underlying mechanisms responsible for these gains.