Through the course of the day, every individual is impacted by an array of systems that either make life simpler, or more complicated. The determination is made in the quality of the systems that are interacted with. The speed and accuracy one receives their favorite coffee house drink in the morning is determined by a series of systems and can set the pace for the whole day.
A system is a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent components that form a complex and unified whole (Anderson & Johson, 1997). Components, or parts, can be either tangible or intangible (Anderson & Johnson, 1997). A tangible component would be the cup that favorite drink ends up before it is placed into the hand of a customer, while an intangible component would the smile the barista should offer as the drink is being given to the customer in order to appear friendly and infuse a warm feeling from a human interaction to compliment the drink being received. Most individuals just take the drink and the smile on their way to their day without thinking about the system they are interacting with.
To understand a system one must understand the characteristics that are necessary for a system to exist (Anderson & Johnson, 1997).
- A system’s parts must all be present for the system to carry out its purpose optimally (all baristas present)
- A system’s parts must be arranged in a specific way for the system to carry out its purpose (order before drink is made)
- All systems have a specific purpose in relationship to the larger system in which they’re embedded (POS system initiate drink making)
- Systems maintain their stability through fluctuations and adjustments (handle the morning rush)
- Systems have feedback (communication cards)
How does your favorite café system need to improve?
Anderson, V., & Johnson, L. (1997). Systems thinking basics: from concepts to causal loops. Cambridge, Mass: Pegasus Communications.
Morecroft, J. D. W. (2015). Strategic modelling and business dynamics: a feedback systems approach (Second edition). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.