Systemic Business Community

A salon discussing research into systemics and business

In the second session of the SIG on Systems Applications in Business and Industry at Sonoma 2006, four papers are scheduled:

  • Kumar Venkat and Wayne Wakeland, “Is Lean Necessarily Green?”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract, PDF, and HTML versions, and on the CDROM as paper #284;
  • Reine Karlsson, Magnus Löf and Donald Huisingh, “Product design as a key to a business system perspective that promotes sustainable forestry”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract, PDF, and HTML versions; and on the CDROM as paper #347;
  • Gerald Steiner, “Organizational Creativity as a Prerequisite for the Generation of Innovation”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract, PDF, and HTML versions, and on the CDROM as paper #340; and
  • Billy Dawson, “From Theory to Practice: Taking General Systems Theory from a Theoretical Concept to a Successful Business Practice”, on the JournalsISSS Proceedings as Abstract and PDF versions, and on the CDROM as paper #376.

You can access the abstracts and journals readily at JournalsISSS Proceedings. If you’re planning to attend the meeting in person, I encourage you at least read the abstracts (only a paragraph or two), and/or read papers you find interesting in depth. Pre-reading should deepen your appreciation of the author’s work, and gives an opportunity to get beyond the superficial.

In my role a SIG chair, I’ve clustered this diverse group of papers together, possibly described in a theme of “making a difference in business”.

  • Kumar Venkat and Wayne Wakeland probe a non-linear linkage between “lean” supply chains and a “green” environmental agenda. Conceptually, if we reduce waste, do we reduce energy consumption? Can we say that a “green” agenda enables a proper balance between immediate concerns and long-term interests, or are we “all dead in the long run”?
  • Reine Karlsson, Magnus Löf and Donald Huisingh have contributed content in a complementary direction, with two twists. The first is a shift from a frame that more industrial to more agricultural: I’m not sure that Venkat and Wakeland’s idea of “lean” is popular in forestry. In addition, Karlsson, Löf and Huisingh make a stronger link to sustainable regional development — not that Venkat and Wakeland wouldn’t be interested in that! — and are richer in their narrative in that direction.
  • If we frame both of the preceding papers as innovations — at least as systemic thinking in business — Gerald Steiner describes linkages between innovation and creativity. In his “planetary model”, can the points of view from the preceding authors effectively be expanded/extended to larger organizational and/or inter-organizational spheres? From the other direction, do ideas of “lean”, “green” and “sustainability” play with organizational creativity?
  • Billy Dawson links his view of business back to writings deep in the history of the ISSS, by Ludwig von Bertalanffy and Kenneth Boulding. Although both of these luminaries may have seen the dawn of the “green” environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s, they would never have heard of “lean” supply chains, and ideas of “sustainability” may not have been as well developed as we understand today. At the 50th Annual Meeting of the ISSS (as a follow-on to the Society for General Systems Research), what is the relevance of originators in the systems movement to a younger generation who didn’t have the opportunity to meet them in person? Can we continue their legacies today, with extensions and expansions in ways that they would appreciate?

The above synthesis is just one person’s approach to our joint content. If you would contribute some comments below, either along this trajectory or on one of your own choosing, we can extend our knowledge from the face-to-face meeting to the electronic world via the Internet.

June 25th, 2006

Posted In: ISSS