Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

22 October 2014

Implementation versus Application, Part One

A discussion of Systems Thinking for my MBA Class, 22 Oct. 2014


In thinking about Systems Thinking, especially as it relates to sustainable profits and the often contrarian thinking of environmental awareness, the author Shireman (1999) gives a thorough accounting. It brought to my mind a number of systems concerns, specifically how solutions are not always in the same generation as the issues at hand (Senge, 2006). Most of my professional experience has been involved with customer service and the retail environment. Recently, I have obtained about 5 years of experience in the education field as a Financial Aid planner. For my study this week, rather than think of a specific company, I wanted more so to address a common theme among all of these areas, specifically the middle manager.

At odds with the executive body of an organization, the middle manager must often be involved in somehow translating what is going on “upstairs” in the innovative, creative, and long-term nerve center, and then applying the ideas into day-to-day, rank and file duties that address immediate concerns. This is one area that Shireman does not address fully. While he speaks glowingly and accurately that businesses are living systems (1999) once it leaves the executive body through training, e-mails, mandates, or otherwise, they tend to drift right back into a mechanistic model, and Standard Operating Procedures that must be followed to the letter (At least in my experience, which is non-global and non-executive – two factors that are addressed differently by Shireman).

Of particular interest, and for greater clarification, the words Implementation and Application should receive some attention. The author suggests “Industrial Ecology as the Application of ecological principles to business and industrial practices” (Emphasis added). I wish to address that the Implementation of an idea is brought by the executive body, but the application of the idea/practice will come through the middle managers.

Speaking in a religious context, Robert D. Hales was serving as a Presiding Bishop (for purposes of this conversation, we shall say that he is part of the ‘General’ Authorities, or the Executive level of decision-makers) while the local, congregational Bishops are the ‘middle manager’ level decision-makers – those who directly influence on a weekly basis those who belong to the ‘organization’. In his initiatory address as Presiding Bishop, he quotes another leader who held a similar position as he, previously. “Now, Brethren, I understand all that we discussed, but until the [local] bishops move, nothing will happen. Everything above the bishop is all talk” (Hales, 1985, May). In saying this, he is addressing the above mentioned concern with Implementation versus Application. This is a bottleneck that is not fully addressed by Shireman. The ideas presented were well thought out, and it was great to see the examples of the leaders who were able to meet the needs of the environment while also focusing on profits – that is, leading change through decision-making.

The final thought of the article is a summation of my thoughts. Shireman states that a business must be integrated as an agent into the community. This involves action – Application – of key principles, and leads to an organization that has meaning, purpose, and is “vital, enriching, enlivening” (Shireman, 1999, quoting Kiuchi, 1997). This can only fully be completed as all members of the system are drawn into the vision, which is most strongly done with the middle managers and executive body working in harmony. 


Let me know if you have any thoughts or personal applications to what I have written. More to come soon, as I look for how I can utilize this thought process more efficiently.


Hales, R. D. (1985, May). The Mantle of a Bishop, Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/1985/05/the-mantle-of-a-bishop?lang=eng

Kiuchi, T. (1997). What I learned in the rainforest. Technology Review, November, December.

Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Shireman, W. K. (1999). Business strategies for sustainable profits: Systems thinking in practice. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Syst. Res., 16(5), 453–462.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.