Environmental systems (and Systems thinking)

1958 Chairman Mao identified the need to exterminate sparrows - the masses of China were mobilized to eradicate the birds, and citizens took to banging pots and pans or beating drums to scare the birds from landing, forcing them to fly until they fell from the sky in exhaustion. - By 1960 Chinese leaders realized that sparrows ate a large amount of insects, as well as grains. Rather than being increased, rice yields after the campaign were substantially decreased. Mao ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows - But it was too late with no sparrows to eat them the locust populations boomed causing a huge ecological imbalance that is thought to have contributed to the Great Chinese Famine.

Cane toads were introduced to Australia from Hawaii in June 1935 by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations to eat the cane beetles, native to Australia and they are detrimental to sugar cane crops, which are a major source of income for Australia. Released 102 toads in Northern Queensland in 1935, there are now over 200 million! Unfortunately, the introduction of the toads has not only caused large environmental detriment, but there is also no evidence that they have affected the cane beetles. The depletion of native species that die eating cane toads; the poisoning of pets and humans; depletion of native fauna preyed on by cane toads.

So now we know what we mean by systems (including eco systems! And their Inter dependency) now let's put this into the context of the business which put systems in place to help solve a problem but can ended up causing problems.

Each of you will get a business that has in some way attempted to solve an environmental problem by implementing a new system - this system however has had a flow effect and has caused another problem. Your job is to think of a solution that means the business can still implement change without causing a negative flow on effect.

The coffee shop

John owns a trendy coffee shop in upscale New York, he sees how many cups are being wasted each day and wants to implement change. He offers customers $0.50 off their coffee if they bring him a re usable cup. This seems to work for a few customers however a lot of other customer are disgruntle at the discount. They don't want to be charge the full price just because they did not bring a cup, they have started going to the cafe down the road with no policy on reusing cups! How can John still implement change and still keep his customer base?

Grocery store

Green Grans Grocers are tired of throwing out fruit that is imperfect. Not only is it wasteful but they are losing money on all the fruit they are having to get rid of. Gran wants to sell the fruit but has had customers complain about the bruised fruit and question the quality of their products. How can Gran still sell this fruit and be less wasteful?

Office printer

Rochelle notices that a lot of the printing in the office does not get collected from the printer, Rochelle suggests that all the employees have a daily printer allowance, this caused resentment amongst her colleagues as they feel that different departments should have different allowances. Can you think of another way to solve this problem that won't upset Rochelle's colleagues?


Created with images by Stewart Black - "Sparrow" • Daveybot - "Toads" • FirmBee - "office freelancer computer"

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