Systems Thinking Approach Essay

1189 words - 5 pages

The traditional approach to thinking within an organisation is the focus on linear thinking. This being the focus on the components of the system analyzed separately and quick fixes within the organisation to the most the parts that are the most visibly broken (Alman, 2011). Systems thinking moves away from looking at the constituent parts of the organisation and rather focuses on the whole system and how the parts are interrelated. Systems thinking was developed from the field of system dynamics and was founded in 1956 by an MIT professor named Jay Forrester. (Aronson, 1998)

Systems thinking is used to provide an insight into underlying system dynamics of an organisation. It is a ...view middle of the document...

Systems thinking considers system behaviour to be a result of the effects of reinforcing and balancing processes. Reinforcing processes results in the increase of some part of the system. These processes are engines of growth. The balancing process keeps this reinforcement in check. If it is unchecked the system will eventually collapse. Thus a balancing process is one that maintains the equilibrium in a particular system (Rouse, 2014). Balancing feedback functions when there is a goal-orientated behaviour thus a target to fulfill (Neil, 2013). Systems thinking focuses on feedback. The knowledge gained from feedback is vitally important to the organisation as it allows management to develop solutions thus using resources in an inefficient manner (Rouse, 2014).

Figure 1: Illustrates the difference between current thinking and simple systems thinking within a number of different areas (Bell, 2010).

The Systems Thinking Approach

First must identify a system and define the system. The level of difficulty of this step depends on whether the system is simple and predictable or if it’s complex and dynamic. Secondly the key processes/behaviours and components within the system must be mapped, measured and managed. Drawing systems maps to help individuals understand that their existence depends on being part of the complex interdependent system does this. This flows the process of synthesis. The third step is to explain the knowledge learnt about the components of the system in terms of the roles and functions of the whole system. Thus teaching the staff about the system and how to solve problems (Reed, 2006).

Figure 2: A diagram illustrating the steps to implementation a simple Systems Thinking Approach (Bell, 2010)

System Thinking Approach Benefits

Systems thinking provides a broader perspective of the organisation, which in turn creates an understanding that is necessary for better long-term solutions. Systems thinking provides the ability to deal effectively with complex problems by raising the level of thinking. Systems thinking results in better alignment and direction of the organisation as well as employees have clearer roles and responsibilities thus resulting in better overall results for the organisation. Systems thinking has the ability to transform the customer experience, as the organisation will be in tune with where the issues lie within the organisation and how to fix them. Systems thinking makes the organisation a much more effective and better place to work. Systems thinking is beneficial in situations of financial constraints and budget cuts. Systems thinking ensures that the appropriate solutions will be created to a problem therefore no resources will be wasted in the process. Systems thinking is beneficial in the situation of workforce reductions because it will effect the organisation negatively if important...

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