Convergent Thinking & Decision Making: Three Archetypes Every Manager Should Know

  • System State vs Management PerceptionLimits to Growth ArchetypeDrifting GoalsFixes that Fail

    Systems State vs. Management Awareness

    Depicts how limits to growth archetype can reach a tipping point in the system state well before managers realize it.

    Limits to Growth Archetype

    The limits to growth archetype every manager should know and recognize.

    Drifting Goals Archetype

    The drifting goals archetype explains middle management resistance to senior management goal setting.

    Fixes that Fail Archetype

    The fixes that fail archetype is important for any manager creating new policies or processes.

    Convergent Thinking & Decision Making: Three Archetypes Every Manager Should Know

    Project Overview

    The American Production & Inventory Control Society (APICS) is a non-profit international education organization that regularly hosts continuing education & development events for its members. We presented “Three System Archetypes every Manager Should Know”, one of our boot camp offerings, for a mixed audience of professional practitioners, graduate students, project managers, and engineers.

    We presented a brief overview of Structured Systems Thinking including how to distinguish between the visible and latent system effects as well as how to read system archetype models. We then reviewed three common system archetypes managers encounter: Limits-to-Growth, Fixes-that-Fail, and Drifting-Goals. We illustrated how managers might recognize the presence of these archetypes in their daily work. And for each archetype we indicated how problems arose by only attempting to create a fix in the “visible” system and what that caused in the latent, or hidden, system structure. We also provided more holistic suggestions and policy options that enabled navigating these archetypes that both increased performance while avoiding problems.


    • Review of Systems Thinking Perspective

    • Presentation of Limits-to-Growth System Archetype

    • Presentation of Fixes-that-Fail System Archetype

    • Presentation of Drifting-Goals System Archetype


    • Improvement to forecasting by knowledge of system archetypes

    • Better decision-making and policy formulation by avoiding fixes-that-fail

    • How to diagnose what archetype a manager is experiencing and what to do

    • Demonstrating how the same archetype could apply to many scenarios

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