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Introduction to System Thinking

System Thinking is a path of understanding the forces at work and their relationships that shapes the actions of systems and the way of describing and understanding it (Tripto, 2018). The discipline enables us to see and decide how to change and utilize systems more effectively. It is also an art as well as science about development of understanding the deep underlying structure of the behaviour of systems.In descriptive words, System thinking is a part of the system analysis process and is a major tool which enables a person to view a system from an overall broad perspective that contains seeing the overall structures, cycles and patterns in a system, instead of seeing only specific events. This broad view can enable a person to quickly locate and identify the real reasons for problems in an organization and gives an idea of how to solve them. System thinking has produced many tools and principles to analyze, change or modify the systems.

As suggested by Abidin (2019) that system thinking is very important in finding out and focusing on the problems in a systematic way which cannot be dealt with using traditional methods. The core of system thinking is how things are interconnected with each other within the whole entity (Abidin, 2019). This paper will focus on the necessity and relevance of system thinking and how it can aid in avoiding incidents like Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Discussion on System Thinking

System Thinking has produced various tools and fundamental concepts for system thinkers to solve complex problems and to ensure a smooth system function true both in the case of animate and inanimate objects ((Paul, 2019). This concept suggests that all things are interconnected, which is not in a spiritual way but in a scientific way. An effective system thinker utilizes this mindset. Synthesisrefers to mixing or combining two or more things to make something new. Emergence refers to the outcome of synergy. It’s about describing the outcomes of things which interact together. Feedback Loops deals with the two types of flows in an elemental system which is reinforcing and balancing dynamics (Layous, 2017). Causality is the concept of how things influence each other In a system and the ways to decipher it. System Mapping is the key tool of the systems thinker which refers to map, or to form an analog cluster for the return of complex digital feedbacks and its analysis.

As System Thinking is an interdisciplinary field, it contains studies on inter related and inter dependent natural or manmade part. The General System Management theory can be traced back to 1930’s and was used extensively during world war 2. General System Management is the application of General System theory which provides the space for an organization that can grow or change if it uses feedbacks from outside and inside of the organization. It enables an organization to utilize new information and empowering individual departments to take necessary steps to change themselves as they come to know their effectiveness or ineffectiveness. It is also an umbrella term which can include many specific system management departments.

Organizations are the process of achieving collective goals by social arrangements (Oberg, 2017). Each and every organization, if they want to be effective, must have some kind of organizational structure.Organizational Structure consists of sub divisions such as Work Specialization: It is one of the key element of organizational structure. It refers to the division of labor, or tasks in this case, within an organization. The entire task is subdivided into separate smaller jobs and to be performed by separate specialized Individuals. One of the benefits of specialization is it not only ensures a smooth operation of a task but it sharpens the skills of employees who performs the task over and over. It also saves time and allows managers to focus effectively on employees. One disadvantage is the employees can get bored of performing same task again and again each and every day.

Departmentalization ensures the smooth co-ordination of common tasks. Through this process manageable teams are made. The Chain of Command is the hierarchy within an organization. It is a formal structure of authority, responsibility and communication. It allows a person to see the lines of communication and authority in an organizational structure, and ensures clean assignment of responsibilities, duties and task.In context to system thinking, the Span of control is an indispensible aspect. In an organization there are managers and subordinates. Managers are controlled by directors and managers controlled by managers. It can be Tall and narrow (manager controlling six or few employees) or flat and wide (managers controlling many employees). Centralization and Decentralizationrefers to the distribution decision making power in an organization. Organization which have high delegation power are decentralized and with low delegation power are highly centralized.

The Matrix Structure kinds of organizations have people from various fields working under project managers. These teams are created for specific purposes like developing new products and services. Organizational form explains the format of an organization follows to function. It is an identity applied to the feature of an organization. It is abstract in nature but it determines the behavioral pattern of an organization. Organizational culture refers to the values, norms and code of conduct practiced by an organization. When an employee joins an organization, automatically adopts the culture of the organization. Every organization has a definite culture. There are several types of cultures such as Power culture which practices centralized control, mostly found in small or medium sized organizations; Role Culture is the form of culture where organizations are divided into several specialized functions which is very common in large organizations; Task Culture is the way of achieving a goal by formation of a team led by a team leader. This culture is very popular in modern businesses. Person culture based organizations are mainly found in NGOs. It is individual goal centric in nature. The organizational culture that supports innovation, and co-operation encourages the system thinking.

As claimed by Wang, (2017) risk is a factor which is in every corner of our life. Engineering risk is associated with the failure of a product or a project and its production due to design flaws of it. It also effects on the cash flow of the project. It is also known as design risk. Risk management is the planned contingencies of an engineering risk in a project management plan. A nice risk management plan is not reactive; it is proactive (Hopkins, 2018). The mission of a risk management process is to reduce the consequences of an adverse effect of a project crash as well as the minimization of the magnitude of impact. It has several steps- Planning for risk: The project leader shall note down a well written risk management strategy which shall also include the methods of application (Hopkins, 2018). Adequate resources are to be allotted to minimize risk factors. Necessary information are to be provided to the project team. Identifying risks: The project risk data should be analyzed in detail to understand the risks and potential causes. Surveys can be conducted if necessary. Some common risk categories are Cost, schedule, feasibility, technical, logistics, human resources, production, support, engineering, business, contract, management, funding, political causes, security and tests. Analyzing risks: Risk analysis process can be Qualitative which is common and involves risk scalesto estimate probability or Quantitative which includes Decision tree analysis andmonte- carlo analysis.

Development of Risk response Strategies: The risk management plans which intend to deal with risks will be placed into categories like Acceptance, avoidance, control and transfer. Monitoring and Controlling Risks: In the risk management plan the provision of systematically track strategies should be placed.

Portfolio alignment is a process which is strategic in nature. In this process an organization’s tasks or projects are evaluated, purpose identified, and fitted to company goals. Projects are divided into group based programs based on similarities and relevance (Rowzan, 2018). All the programs and the projects shall fall under a portfolio strategy which is designed by project management office. Portfolio alignment is not only the process of the alignment of projects with strategy but it also aligns project policies, processes and organizational objectives. Portfolio alignment aligns components to the strategy of thee business for optimization of costs, timelines, resources, and risks.Business value is an informal term given to all forms of values which determines the health status of a firm in long run. Business value not only deals with the economic value, but other values too such as customer value, supplier value, managerial value, employee value etc.

It also takes in account of intangible assets like intellectual capital, business model, goodwill etc. The system thinking contributes to enhance the value of the ultimate outcome, and positively encourages business value. This concept comes from the notion of the theory that a firm is a network of internal and external relationships known as value network or value chain. Business value is also the total sum of a business’s tangible and intangible assets. The Portfolio Management Process Cycle is a live way of management of a customer’s assets(Oliveira, 2016). It is a cycle of integrated compilation of steps which is implemented with consistency for the creation and management of a suitable asset portfolio for the achievement of a client’s goals. The cycle includes Planning, Execution and feedback.

The concept of Organizational Maturity refers to the evolution of an organization by building its structure, process, people, technology readiness and capability by adopting quality practices (Verenych, 2018). The framework of Organizational maturity provides a set of common characteristics against which maturity can be tested. There are 5 levels of organizational maturity namely Initial, Emergent, structured, Integrated and optimized. An organization always starts from the “Initial” but to reach the “optimized” level all types of planning and management skills and tools must be used properly.

Conclusion on System Thinking

As we discussed about various tools and aspects of system thinking in this literature, it is evident that the tools mentioned can be very useful in project problems. Some tools project managers can use which I will recommend to avoid incidents like Deep horizon oil spill are tools like provision of Risk management, its planning and System mapping. Engineering risks are very much a phenomenon in these types of projects. The utilization of system thinking in the overall project can give useful insights about the ongoing problems in a project which can lead to a serial disaster. As a project manager the General System management can be used to make sure the projects are running smooth and safe. Organizational structures can be reviewed and tweaked if necessary. To conclude, the System Thinking thus becomes a very important tool in a Project manager’s inventory.

References for System Thinking

Abidin, N. Z., Jaafar, I. A., &Alwi, A. (2019, August). The application of system thinking in solving complex problem: A case study of dengue transmission control policy. In AIP Conference Proceedings (Vol. 2138, No. 1, p. 040001).AIP Publishing LLC.

Bushuyev, S., &Verenych, O. (2018). Organizational maturity and project: Program and portfolio success. In Developing Organizational Maturity for Effective Project Management (pp. 104-127).IGI Global.

Chapman, C., & Ward, S. (1996). Project risk management: processes, techniques and insights. John Wiley.

Côrte-Real, N., Oliveira, T., &Ruivo, P. (2017).Assessing business value of Big Data Analytics in European firms.Journal of Business Research, 70, 379-390.

Crispim, J., Silva, L. H., &Rego, N. (2019). Project risk management practices: the organizational maturity influence. International journal of managing projects in business.

Eilam, B., &Reisfeld, D. (2017). A curriculum unit for promoting complex system thinking: the case of combined system dynamics and agent based models for population growth. Journal of Advances in Education Research, 2(2), 39-134.

Glendon, A. I., Clarke, S., & McKenna, E. (2016). Human safety and risk management. Crc Press.

Hopkin, P. (2018). Fundamentals of risk management: understanding, evaluating and implementing effective risk management. Kogan Page Publishers.

Layous, K., Nelson, S. K., Kurtz, J. L., &Lyubomirsky, S. (2017). What triggers prosocial effort? A positive feedback loop between positive activities, kindness, and well-being.The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(4), 385-398.

Oberg, A., Korff, V. P., & Powell, W. W. (2017). Culture and connectivity intertwined: Visualizing organizational fields as relational structures and meaning systems. Structure, Content and Meaning of Organizational Networks: Extending Network Thinking, 53, 17À47.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2019).The miniature guide to critical thinking concepts and tools.Rowman& Littlefield.

Pearson, S. (2016). Building brands directly: creating business value from customer relationships. Springer.

Rad, F. H., &Rowzan, S. M. (2018).Designing a hybrid system dynamic model for analyzing the impact of strategic alignment on project portfolio selection.Simulation Modelling Practice and Theory, 89, 175-194.

Shi, B., Jiang, J., Liu, R., Khan, A. U., & Wang, P. (2017). Engineering risk assessment for emergency disposal projects of sudden water pollution incidents. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24(17), 14819-14833.

Silva, L. S. F., & Oliveira, S. R. B. (2016, September).A Process Framework with Agile Practices for Implementation of Project Portfolio Management Process.In 2016 10th International Conference on the Quality of Information and Communications Technology (QUATIC) (pp. 146-149).IEEE.

Tripto, J., Assaraf, O. B. Z., &Amit, M. (2018).Recurring patterns in the development of high school biology students’ system thinking over time.Instructional Science, 46(5), 639-680.

Wu, D., Olson, D. L., &Dolgui, A. (2017).Artificial intelligence in engineering risk analytics.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Management Assignment Help

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