Part 1: what have I learned and what do I want to learn about systems.
A system holds a collection of different parts along with their relationships. All together it forms a larger system or system of system, with a unified meaning. When parts of a system are removed it is not the same as it was as part of the system. This is because systems can interact in some manner. For example, the output of one system could be the input for another. The mere collection of information can make systems and science appear to be the same, but they differ. Science has a hypothesis and prescriptive process to deep dive into a piece of a larger whole. Boardman & Sauser (2008) mention science not considering relationships, but I believe in some cases adding a qualitative analysis could potentially consider relationships. Regardless, systems are more emergent and considers relationships as a valuable part of the process.
Systems are not linear, but more of a heterogeneous collection. In class (also discussed in reading) we talked about systems being as macro perhaps referring to an organization as a whole, and as micro as a single class. In addressing problems or failures in a system it might only be in one business unit and not the system as a whole. Since systems interact one failed system can affect other systems. Once the one failed system is addressed the problem can organically repair in related systems. This highlights the need for a systems thinking approach to identify the root of any failures. Systems thinking is taking in multiple perspectives and looking at a problem from every vantage point. Perhaps one of my favorite perspectives is from Boardman & Sauser (2008) “Systems thinking does not suppress or supplant perspectives; it adopts them and finds sense in their multiplicity and diversity, their surprise.” (p2) At a micro level individuals affected by the problem should be part of a discovery process to generate the array of perspectives needed.
In taking my understanding of what a system is, and how systems thinking approaches problems I am eager to learn how to analyze problems and identify pain points. More specifically, I would like to be able to analyze complex unstructured problems and learn how to make sense of them. Challenges that arise in business are never presented in a tidy package. Relationships, internal and external elements, and related interactions exist and don’t purposely or maliciously go awry, but there can be an organic shift and gradual deterioration. I would like to be better equipped to apply a systems thinking approach to these challenges.
The pursuit of additional information on related topics has been minimal. Some areas of interest that led from the reading are cybernetics and the complexity theory. Unfortunately, I was added to the class late and have been focused on keeping up with the reading. The school error has really hurt my learning experience. As I typically stop to google questions or anything interesting to gain perspective, I instead had to stay in the reading to get through it.
Boardman, J. & Sauser, B. (2008) Systems Thinking: Coping with 21st Century Problems (Systems Innovation Book Series) CRC Press. Kindle Edition.
Part 2: Educational systems that I am a part of.
The main educational systems that I am involved in are as a student at UNT, and as an instructional designer at Qlik. I am a doctoral student in the learning technologies program, which is in the department of information at UNT. It is safe to say the micro level of this system is much more effective than the macro level. The school makes errors and appears to be more concerned with collecting money then setting students up for success. Luckily in this class and really any class I have taken here professors (micro level) care about my success, which semi-makes up for the failures of the larger system.
The other system, Qlik, is a functional organization with the chiefs broken out under the CEO by CFO, HR, global solutions & partners, customer service, legal, sales, technology, strategy, marketing, and product. Each of these business units break down further to cover geography and functions. Global solutions & partners include business units for consulting, education, systems integration, solutions & value engineering, data literacy, technology alliances, strategic client advisory and global partner organization. Education is broken out into education services, strategy & solutions, & knowledge management. The strategy & solutions team has the smaller business units of the academic program, curriculum team & random other individuals, then individuals are allocated to the smaller business units based on function.
For the first four years, I was a random individual on the strategy & solutions team. It made sense since we all had different functions, but I did work with individuals on this team resulting in relationship building. We had regular interaction as a team, team building events, I got annual reviews and overall, I was very happy and felt like a valued part of this organization. Then we restructured and I was moved to the curriculum team. Although my job function is not the same as the rest of the team, and my skillset very different, it was a loose grouping based on a limited perspective. I don’t work with anyone on this team and have no interaction, I no longer get annual reviews or any input, I no longer feel like part of this organization and don’t enjoy this environment.