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Systems thinking questions - ides for paper

In about 700 words, please explain the following and separate your responses to each question:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of systems thinking?

How is systems thinking used to promote the goals of performance improvement?

What metrics and strategies have been utilized to measure and improve performance?

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In about 700 words, please explain the following and separate your responses to each question:

What are the strengths and weaknesses of systems thinking?
Advantages of systems thinking:
The character of systems thinking makes it extremely effective on the most difficult types of problems to solve: those involving complex issues, those that depend a great deal dependence on the past or on the actions of others, and those stemming from ineffective coordination among those involved. Examples of areas in which systems thinking has proven its value include:
Complex problems that involve helping many actors see the "big picture" and not just their part of it
Recurring problems or those that have been made worse by past attempts to fix them
Issues where an action affects (or is affected by) the environment surrounding the issue, either the natural environment or the competitive environment
Problems whose solutions are not obvious
So many important problems that plague us today are complex, involve multiple actors, and are at least partly the result of past actions that were taken to alleviate them. Dealing with such problems is notoriously difficult and the results of conventional solutions are often poor enough to create discouragement about the prospects of ever effectively addressing them. One of the key benefits of systems thinking is its ability to deal effectively with just these types of problems and to raise our thinking to the level at which we create the results we want as individuals and organizations even in those difficult situations marked by complexity, great numbers of interactions, and the absence or ineffectiveness of immediately apparent solutions.

Weaknesses:
View the organization and environment as concrete items
Functional unity and harmony not always possible
Metaphor of an organism becomes an ideology
Results of Systems Thinking are only possible scenarios, not plausible scenarios
Results of Systems Thinking are less persuasive (because it has no causation).
Systems thinking is not applicable to daily business thinking (Reactive Thinking is a better alternative). Systems Thinking is time-consuming.
A disadvantage of systems theory suggests all variables have some equality in the extend of impact and control over the business environment conditions. We know this not to be the case as some variables are bound to have a greater impact and degree of control when compared to other variables. Never the less, circumstances can change and hence it is quite possible that what was once considered irrelevant can as quickly become a major force and vice versa. Dealing with so many variables may not be possible and is often a criticism in the application of systems
Determining strategies and the importance or otherwise of numerous variables given the degree of uncertainty in which organizations now operate is not a simple task. One must question as to whether systems theory can actually capture the complexity of interactions and inter-relationships that exists, whether formally or informally.
Dealing with such information will require a consistent re-evaluation of the desired business objectives of the organization to ensure that are still in line with the market forces and trends, both current and future. If the organization is constantly adapting and or reacting to such influences this may have unforeseen implications in other areas within the organization that could be detrimental to it's overall success

How is systems thinking used to promote the goals of performance improvement?
Systems thinking helps performance improvement by systemically helping you to:
§ Understand the structures that really shape your organization
§ Recognize key patterns of behavior over time
§ Address problems with greater insight
§ Anticipate trends, delays, and the consequences of your decisions
§ Reduce the elements of risk
§ Design high-leverage interventions to improve performance.
Traditional decision making tends to involve linear cause and effect relationships. By taking a systems approach, we can see the whole complex of bidirectional interrelationships. Instead of analysing a problem in terms of an input and an output, for example, we look at the whole system of inputs, processes, outputs, feedback, and controls. This larger picture will typically provide more useful results than traditional methods.
Systems Thinking is a worldview based on the perspective of the systems sciences, which seeks to understand interconnectedness, complexity and wholeness of components of systems in specific relationship to each other. Systems thinking is not only constructivist, rather systems thinking embraces the values of reductionist science by understanding the parts, and the constructivist perspectives which seek to understand wholes, and more so, the understanding of the complex relationships that enable 'parts' to become ...

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