Synthesizing Systemic Intervention Approaches: Combining Viable System Model, Knowledge Management, and Toyota Production System for a Sustainable Holistic Management Model

Bradley Moore, Javier Calvo-Amodio, Joseph F. Junker


Non-profit service organizations existing in dynamic environments are often presented with management challenges, such as necessity for non-centralized management structures, knowledge retention, and meeting diverse stakeholder demands. Many intervention approaches exist to address these challenges, such as the viable system model (VSM), knowledge management (KM), and the Toyota production system (TPS). These approaches each stem from specific welantschauungen (world views), capable of leading interventions in particular problem contexts. Previous work such as total systems intervention, creative design of methods, and boundary critique provide roadmaps on how to combine different approaches to act in complex problem contexts. However, they require the analyst to possess significant systems thinking knowledge. This research explores a complementarist framework to assist those that are not educated in systems thinking in intervening in complex problem contexts. The proposed framework is presented through a case study based on a non-profit service organization that performs knowledge-based project work in a dynamic environment. The development of the proposed complementarist approach is presented through 1) the problem context definition, 2) selection of applicable intervention approaches, 3) the analysis and matching of relevant literature to the problem context, and 4) illustration of the resulting framework for the case study organization. Discussion on potential future applications and development of the proposed framework are also presented.


Engineering management; systems thinking; viable system model; knowledge management; Toyota production system; organization; non-profit; service; dynamic

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