he United States was a young country in 1790, when Henry Wood founded a company to import and distribute English-milled flour for baking. The company prospered and took on other partners, becoming a joint-stock ownership. In 1895, the company introduced a new brand of premium flour, King Arthur Flour, which was a commercial success. When retail sales to home cooks declined, the company started selling to commercial bakers. Over the years, markets for flour changed, the product line expanded, and new owners came in. When the company encountered problems, it made changes, but, by the 1970s, the company faced significant financial pressures. The company’s president made several critical decisions, including selling off all product lines except the core flour business. He moved the company from Boston, Massachusetts, to a less expensive location in Vermont. Then, in 1996, the company became an employee-owned firm. More than 220 years after its founding, The King Arthur Flour Co., Inc., is still in business (and is still selling flour), making it one of the oldest companies in the United States (King Arthur, 2013).
Through more than two centuries of operation, King Arthur experienced successes and failures. When problems arose, the company took actions that turned out to be mostly successful. Like King Arthur, virtually all companies with a long history have experienced periods when growth stalled. Recognizing and analyzing a stall is a critical factor in determining what action will be effective.
As you review the article “When Growth Stalls,” (located in this week’s resources) consider the pervasiveness of this problem. Also consider how a growth stall fits a systems pattern, or archetype. Consider the systems archetypes that Senge reviews in Chapter 6, “Nature’s Templates: Identifying the Patterns that Control Events.” Review the articles “Towards the Definition and Use of a Core Set of Archetypal Structures in System Dynamics” and “The System Archetypes” (located in this week’s resources) to view examples in the use of archetypes to analyze business problems.
As you review the case study “Bayonne Packaging, Inc.,” (located in this week’s resources) consider the factors that contributed to the company’s first loss in 10 years. Think about how you would use common systems archetypes to analyze Bayonne’s situation. Consider what those diagrams could reveal in understanding the company’s performance problems and which systems strategies could resolve these problems.
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