In the figure, the activity systems are represented by the curved arrows, the entity systems by the circular arrows.
In linking up with each other, the activity systems form a supply chain (orange arrows). The output mei (matter, energy, information) of one activity system continues as input substance to another.
Supply chains can link up along and across levels in the systems hierarchy, forming horizontal and vertical supply chains. An industry supply chain (e.g. the food production industry) is typically depicted as a horizontal supply chain, flowing mostly along the organisational level. Other supply chains cross levels in the systems hierarchy and are referred to as vertical supply chains (e.g. the nutrition supply chain). Most supply chains are a mixture of both horizontal and vertical chains.
Within an activity system, the input substance is processed and transformed into an output substance. For example, milled wheat becomes grain, which is ground into flour, baked into bread, chewed into whey and digested and metabolised into nutrients for the body.
Processing always transforms input substance into a product and by-product. For example, wheat becomes grain and chaff, baking produces bread and heat. Products and by-products become parts of different supply chains. For example, the grain becomes part of the nutrition chain, the chaff part of the composting chain.
The biomatrix is a web of interacting supply chains.
relevance for the change manager
Supply chain management ensures the efficient flow of mei and the appropriate continuity of both products and by-products.
Discontinuity in a supply chain creates problems. Examples are unused products, messages not understood, strategies not implemented, pollutants not rendered harmless. These problems spread to other activity and entity systems and co-produce systemic problems in parts of the biomatrix.
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