I want you to take a look at the feedback loops in Whole Foods Market.

REQUIRED READING:

Refer to the background readings on System Feedback Loops.

CASE 5 ASSIGNMENT:

Identify one Balancing Loop and one Reinforcing Loop. These feedback loops should be critical to Whole Foods Market’s performance and success. So you should have a good idea of what these are from your previous analysis.

Explain each one of these loops – what are the causal factors and how do they affect each other. for the Reinforcing loop, you should look for an area where there is growth and for the Balancing loop, you need to look for goal behavior. Once you have identified and explained these critical feedback loops, you need to identify how Whole Foods Market has generated organizational learning, AND how they can go further and generate additional organizational learning. What do they need to do to improve their performance further?

Be sure to include references. Turn in the 5-6 page paper by the end of the module.

KEYS TO THE ASSIGNMENT:

This is what you need to do:

Determine the two critical feedback loops. Describe each Feedback Loop that you identify in your organization and explain why you selected them. Make sure you explain the Loop, the cause and effect process within the Loop. You could also include a Causal Loop Diagram. If you do, show the arrows and direction of effect (+ or -). Also, determine what the warrant is for your case.
Briefly discuss the theory of organizational learning so that you provide a summary of this information to the executives – establish this as common ground.
Identify the learning activities in each feedback loop that Whole Foods Market has already undertaken.
Then identify the opportunities for organizational learning in each Feedback Loop. Make a Case that these are learning opportunities. Logically show how the feedback process provides an opportunity for the organization to learn and improve its performance. Be precise. Depth and breadth in your discussion is always a good thing.

***Potential Reference Links/Required Reading***

In all of the readings, pay partiular attention to the two types of Feedback Loops: Reinforcing Feedback that causes growth, and Balancing Feedback that provides stabilizing effects.

This first reading is a good overview.

Bellinger, G. (2004) Introduction to systems thinking. Retrieved from http://www.systems-thinking.org/intst/int.htm on November 7, 2012.

This second reading is quite long and reviews much of the work in the area of learning organizations. Read it all if you like (see menu on left side of the page), but the most relevant part of the paper for this course is part VI, which covers systems thinking:

Larsen, K., McInerney, C., Nyquist, C., Santos, A., & Silsbee, D. (1996) Learning Organizations (Part VI: Systems Thinking) Retrieved from http://leeds-faculty.colorado.edu/larsenk/learnorg/index.html on November 7, 2012

IF YOU ARE STILL CONFUSED ABOUT FEEDBACK LOOPS, [retrieved on November 7, 2012]. Here is another tutorial on this complex concept.