Applied systems thinking: The impact of system optimization strategies on financial and quality performance in a team-based simulation

Healthc Manage Forum. 2021 Jan;34(1):29-33. doi: 10.1177/0840470420950378. Epub 2020 Aug 26.


At its core, this research was undertaken to explore the extent to which system optimization leadership strategies such as innovation, collaboration, and data-driven decision-making affect financial and quality performance in organizations. A quasi-experimental pretest-posttest research design was used to examine the increase or decrease in system performance as a result of treatment in the form of a systems thinking workshop and strategy discussion. The application of three-core system strategies lead to significant gains in financial performance across all teams, and an increase in quality performance in all but one team. In addition to an increase in performance, this research also revealed the tendency of social systems to reflexively sub-optimize their performance and at times lose focus on higher order system goals. Helpful recommendations for leadership practice and future research are presented with a view to helping optimize whole systems and not solely their parts.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making, Organizational*
  • Efficiency, Organizational / standards*
  • Financial Management / standards*
  • Health Facility Administrators
  • Institutional Management Teams*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Simulation Training*
  • Systems Analysis*