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Essay on Organizational Systems Archetypes

4 pages
1011 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
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Systems archetypes are common and reoccurring behavioral patterns in an organization that results in negative consequences. In the book "The Fifth Discipline" by Peter Senge, various system archetypes are explored in the organizational behavior setup. The book analyzed eight universal patterns namely, Fixes that Fail, Shifting the Burden, Limits to Success, Drifting the Goals, Growth and underinvestment, success to successful, Escalation and tragedy to the Commons (Senge, 2014). The archetypes aid in understanding the dynamics of behaviors that have led to unwanted conditions in an organization. The paper will focus on three systems archetypes, Shifting the Burden, Drifting Goals and Limits to Success experienced by Intel network Provider Company.

Shifting the burden is a system archetype whereby a problem symptom get addressed through short-term and fundamental solutions which lead to tension. The short-term solutions always yield side effect affecting the fundamental solutions. On the other hand, long-term solutions demand a deep understanding and learning concerning the problem at hand which might take a very long time to formulate. Apart from time factor, the solution requires a lot of patience and commitments to funds. The high demand for the fundamental solution leads the organization into shifting of the system attention to the short-term solution which is easy to formulate and less expensive.

At Intel organization, the management interventions work through shifting the burden. The managers always apply this response when the company requires some improvements. However, the shifting of burden occasionally leads to persistence or reappearing of the problem in future. Intel network Provision Company decided to change the service production network instead of fixing the problem of low network coverage production due to high customer subscription (Stroh, 2015).

The best way to solve the problem is by looking at the primary source or root of the issue. The managers should use the short-term solution to gain time while they concentrate on the fundamental solutions. The process may be lengthy, but it decreases the symptom remedy and yields excellent value to the long-term fundamental solutions (Senge, 2014).

Drifting Goals occurs in an organization whereby the managers face the issue of failing to meet a stated goal. The managers then tend to seek a new rationale whereby they change the goal to another one that appears to be more attainable .it is based on lowering the standards where the performance is not standard. The managers keep on changing the goals and setting them higher before meeting the actual ones leading to falling in the overall organization's performance (Senge, 2014). Managers do not put into consideration the reasons behind the failure to meet the unattained goal. When faced with the problem providing the network to a large metropolitan area, Intel Company decided to shift their goal to selling smartphones.

Drifting the goals is allowed where the future is uncertainty. In case the forecast turns out to be wrong, the managers are allowed to make changes and adjustments that reflect the reality. On the other hand, shifting the goals has a negative impact on the overall performance of the organization. Every time the managers lower the standards, the overall goal is reduced leading to overall poor performance.

The best solution to solve this system archetype is to anchor goals to an external frame of reference which will prevent them from sliding. The managers need first to decide whether the decline in the performance is caused by the conflict between the stated goal and the implied goal through examining the history of the goal. It will help in establishing a clear transition plan from the current reality to the actual goal. The managers also need to hold on visions and keep the organization goals steady at all time (Bures & Racz, 2016). In case of poor performance in the current goals, the company should focus on improving the performance instead of changing or lowering the goals.

Limits to Success occurs where the dramatic growth is slowed or turned around. The organization sometimes rises intensely and later levels off depending on the strength of the limiting structure. The archetype is based on the dynamic theory which hypothesis that continuing efforts yields diminishing returns as an organization approaches the limits. The growth and success of an organization may be e successful at the initial stage but may lower or flatten as the organization accomplishing its success. The pressure exerted by the growth engines may fall and reverse with time (Senge, 2014).

The limit to success/growth archetype shows that every organization is prone to failure despite the plan and success limits strategies applied. During the initial state of Intel Company, the business was very successful with many subscribers joining the organization (Stroh, 2015). With time, the demand overwhelmed the technical capacity to deliver services leading to slowed network connectivity. The new subscribers are alienated, and those who had subscribed began leaving the company.

The best strategy applied to solve the problem is by focusing on getting rid of the problem rather than pushing on achieving success. It is done by identifying the link between the growth process and the limiting factors which will provide the best strategy for handling the challenge (Bures & Racz, 2016). The Intel needs to focus on improving their technical capacity to accommodate a large volume of subscribers without lowering the network connection.


The system archetypes emerge from the underlying organizational structure and can be the best strategy for revealing insights into the structure and anticipate a potential problem. The three patterns have been of higher value to the growth of Intel Company. They are valuable in developing wide understanding of the organization and the environment hence creating a basis for understanding the issue. Thinking about the problem is the best solution for better performance.


Bures, V., & Racz, F. (2016). Application of system archetypes in practice: an underutilized pathway to better managerial performance. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 17(6), 1081-1096.

Senge, P. M. (2014). The fifth discipline fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. Crown Business.

Stroh, D. P. (2015). Systems thinking for social change: A practical guide to solving complex problems, avoiding unintended consequences, and achieving lasting results. Chelsea Green Publishing.

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