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System Archetypes in Michigan House Senior Living

System Archetypes in Michigan House Senior Living

According to Senge (2006), systems archetypes consist of creating a balance between process and delay, shifting the burden, growth limits, shifting the burden to the intervening party, escalation, success to the successful, eroding goals, tragedy to the commons, growth and underinvestment and fixes that fail. Michigan House Senior Living, where I work, uses various systems archetypes to measure the organization’s performance. One of the system archetypes is drifting goals. Our organization uses a causal loop diagram to resolve the gap between a current reality, such as a decrease in caregivers, and the goal, which is having one caregiver for every two clients at the facility.

A casual loop diagram demonstrates the relationship between corrective action, delays between the effect and action within the system, and the drifting of goals to address the delays in implementing the corrective action (Plack et al., 2019). In our organization, resolving the issue of the shortage of caregivers is managed by taking the corrective action of hiring more caregivers, but sometimes there are delays because there is stiff competition for qualified caregivers, leading to external pressure to hire entry-level caregivers and train them. Opting to employ entry-level caregivers and train them results in goal drift because the existing qualified caregivers have to take care of more than one client before the newly hired caregivers are trained to meet the organization’s standards.

The second systems archetype in our organization is fixes that fail. Over the past year, the organization has experienced an increase in clients and a shortage of caregivers. The organization has been forced to hire caregivers based on availability rather than skills and experience and training them to equip them with the skills needed to meet the organization’s expectations to resolve this problem. Unfortunately, most newly hired caregivers make mistakes and offer poor-quality care, leading to increased customer complaints, which affects the organization’s overall performance and reputation. According to Konetzka (2020), residents in nursing homes cannot monitor their care, exert political influence, or advocate for themselves. Therefore, when the caregivers are unable to offer the quality of care they need, they put them at risk of illness and death, which leads to the third archetype, limits to success.


Konetzka, R. T. (2020). The challenges of improving nursing home quality. JAMA Network Open, 3(1).

Plack, M. M., Goldman, E. F., Scott, A. R., & Brundage, S. B. (2019). Systems thinking in the healthcare professions: A guide for educators and clinicians. Washington, DC: The George Washington University.

Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Doubleday.


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System Archetypes in Michigan House Senior Living

System Archetypes in Michigan House Senior Living

A system thinking perspective looks for certain patterns of structure that recur again and again. Senge refers to these patterns as “systems archetypes.” Senge has identified eight system archetypes. Senge argues that mastering the system archetypes puts an organization on the path of system thinking. In this assignment, you will explore system archetypes in your own organization.

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