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Palm Inc.’s System Feedback Loops


Organization and individuals need to invest in learning in order to run their operations effectively. Various approaches can be employed in learning, but one striking approach is the system thinking. The approach emphasizes on one to take a 360 degree approach in organization learning to understand how various parts of the organization interact and affect each other (Bellinger, 2004). System thinking has been brought forward as a way of enhancing learning through a causal effect approach, where team work is believed to generate synergy. The foundation to this approach is identification of causality, also referred to as feedback.

Feedback Loops

Feed back loops are networks that indicate the cause effect and implications of feedback in organizations. To facilitate effective operations, organizations enhance their communication process where feedback plays an important role in responding to stakeholders’ demands, including clients. Such feedback can be relayed through information technology as well as through generation of products to change specific trends that clients are not comfortable with or introducing new products in the market to solve existing solutions.

Introduce Palm Inc.

Palm Inc. is an organization that went public in year 2000. It offers mobile and wireless internet solutions to its clients. It is also a global service provider of handheld computers which offers thousands of solutions to diverse individuals as well as organizations around the globe. Approximately 160,000 innovative developers and solution providers have solutions which are based on Palm’s OS platform (Palm, 2010). To retain their wide market command, they act on feedback which they receive from their customers as well as from their market research.

Balancing Feedback Loop

A balancing feedback loop is a feedback channel where a negative or controlling feedback circulates. It involves a system change, which induces change to other parts of the system, where the consequences counteract the initial change. A balancing feedback system is primarily a behavioral move towards attainment of a specific goal. This is indicated below through the application of hand held computers in fleet management to reduce reliance on mobile phones as the major medium of communication in fleet management, as indicated below.

Increase in application of palm VII

High inefficiency as a result of use of mail and cell phones decline in fleet management.

Initially, fleet managers relied on heavy voice and mobile calls to manage communication. This led to a communication process that was extremely inefficient and cumbersome. In a move to respond to these challenges, Palm initiated use of Palm VII hand held computers, where now it is easy to send multiple messages in real time. The rise in usage of the palm held computers in fleet management led to decline in inefficiencies in communication as well as a reduction in the usage of mobile phones.

Reinforcing loop

Reinforcing loop

Sale of hand palm computers

Palm innovated hand held computers to reduce inefficiencies in organization operations. This was aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating costs that comes with application of other communication and documentation channels and tools in organizations. As demonstrated in the case of the Central Healthy, application of hand held computers and other solutions from Palm by other organizations improved their operations while at the same time boosting revenue for the organization. Central Healthy recorded a 7% improvement in productivity in the year it started employing Palm solutions in its operations, while at the same time cutting overhead costs. This was achieved through automation of its operations. A ten percent increase in documented procedures was also recorded over the same period. A reinforcing feedback involves a change in one part of the system which induces change in other parts of the system. This in turn amplifies the magnitude of the initial change (Bellinger, 2004).

How Palm developed organizational learning in loops

Loop learning involves proper understanding of the causal loops which are connected to create a feedback loop. Palm has established mechanisms to respond to its clients’ demands by remaining innovative. This has been achieved through training of clients on product usage as well as engaging its employees in skills development. It is through such efforts that the organization has been able to develop learning in the organization (Larsen, 1996). Palm, hand held computers market triggers feedback loops both reinforcing and balancing. The organization employs a balancing feedback loop that ensures that solutions are offered to its clients to reduce and eventually eliminate inefficiencies in their operations. This has been evident in its generation of hand held computers, which has increased the accessibility of computer services even when clients are outside their premises. On the other hand, Palm has developed learning through its reinforcement feedback program. Through this, the organization has been able to increase the number of hand held solutions in the market. This has in turn improved efficiency in their operations. This rise in efficiency has eventually triggered rise in demand of its products, which has in turn boosted the organization sales.

Further opportunities in loops

Palm has many opportunities for causal loops in utilizing its market opportunities. It can utilize its existing loops and the relationship it has with strategic partners in the industry to benchmark their desired organization goals in product development with the actual products that are already in their product lines. This will enable them to continually bridge the gap between expected levels of performance in various aspects of their business with the actual performance. By employing a balancing feedback system to manage product development and phasing out of obsolete technology, the organization need to remain innovative while at the same time replacing technologies that are quickly getting outdated in the current dynamic market environment, with new, relevant and solution oriented technologies.


As indicated above, the benefits of system learning and thinking are numerous. The management has been able to offer solutions to its clients over time by putting into consideration both internal as well as the external business environment. As discussed above, by ensuring that feedback loops are effectively managed, organizations are able to get in control of the market as well as their internal operations. As much as it is hard to fully get in control of the external environment, the organizations are able to influence them. Understanding of reinforcing feedback loops enables an organization to project the intensity of reaction from competitors and other stakeholders to their business operations. By putting the needs of their clients in the forefront, they have been able to satisfy the client’s needs by producing research informed products. This has enabled the clients to cut on their overheads as well as increase efficiency in operations. On the other hand, the organization has been able to boost its sales, its global image as well as its competitiveness in the market


Bellinger, G. (2004). Introduction to systems thinking.

Larsen, K. (1996). Learning organizations.

Palm. (2010). Palm Inc. Web.


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