Systems Thinking In Organiztions Free Essay

Introduction

An organization system is a compilation of elements or units that are well incorporated to achieve a general aim. The system consists of entities that undertake a course of action to generate definite outcomes that collectively, result in the desired yield for the arrangement. Therefore, a system comprises numerous sub-systems that work jointly to produce the required results by the main structure.

Systems thinking is a method that understands the systems from a viewpoint of the whole arrangement of the organization. This is done in dealing with its different smaller systems and the returning sequences in the interaction linking the smaller systems. In essence, system thinking assists in examining systems using an open approach. The manager operates by viewing the arrangements, models and sequences in the systems. This observation can assist in speedy recognition of genuine reasons for concerns in organizations and a focused remedy can be instituted. Standards and means for studying and modifying systems have been developed through systems thinking (McNamara, 2008).

Main Body

Organizations face challenges when managing their various sub-units to fit into the larger system and ultimately achieve the intended results. Identifying the reasons for poor results cannot be achieved by looking at the overall organizational results. An example can be seen in the military unit, where problems arise in the analysis of relationships of its activities with external forces. There are different external systems of laws that ideally encode the military units’ work. The officer in charge of the execution of duties has to first analyze these external laws so as to merge the military unit tasks effectively in accordance with these laws (McNamara, 2008).

The military unit has lots of duties that revolve around the personnel and the society in general. The military is known to depend on the environment for inputs into the organization. The commander assigned to the unit has to be aware of the external forces when planning for military tasks for the unit. They ought to have an understanding of the appearance of the force, the nature of its exploit and the commanding officer’s capacity to control it (Fedorov, 2001).

To curb the effects of these external forces, the military unit commander ensures that the unit soldiers are educated on the forces. They focus on efficiency when undertaking their activities. An improvement in the mechanical and logistic gear, increased aptitude of the workforce, lifting up their trade and industry knowledge, unity and group work improvement, increased legal knowledge and bearing, and use of international practices when managing combined tasks in the military unit. These tasks are achieved by targeted training of the personnel to be more aware of the forces (Fedorov, 2001).

A similar approach can be found in an orchestra group. The group taps inputs from their surroundings, develop them and creates an output. This input range from people to cultures and moral support. In order to flourish, the orchestra system relies on its surroundings and relations among its unit systems. In the symphony orchestra group, a multifaceted lay down of mutually supporting sub-systems is used. It absorbs in the form of statistics and synthesizes them in an assortment of techniques resulting in services and products for the people in its surrounding. Therefore, the orchestra group relies on the surrounding for its continuity to existing as an organization. The orchestra groups utilize money from the society in the form of wages and donations. There is also a reliance on the people to maintain a flow of voluntary resources. It also takes in permanent assets for its functions. The group releases music in live concerts and also recordings for long-term use. The groups thrive on their output which is music and sound for that matter. Over the years sound production has largely evolved with people having access to compact disc players and other devices. This has impacted negatively on the number of people who attend the concerts. Sound design plays a vital role in the music business and should be considered when producing music (Fedorov, 2001).

However, the industry has adopted good quality modern sound systems that are now being merged with the style of music. There have been developments of theaters in major areas for orchestra concerts performances just like in the earlier years. The industry used the surroundings again to develop methods of adopting the sound into the orchestra style of music (Fedorov, 2001).

Systems in military and orchestra organizations depend on the external surroundings for their functioning. They both need to have feedback from the immediate environment and for the other sub-systems within the organizations to work. The inputs they tap from the exterior are synthesized into different forms and hence the different outputs. This can be likened to living organisms that take in raw food and produce energy. The energy is used in the environment for benefit in the form of services. The similarity can also be observed in the prediction of the future trends in resource behavior. Alternatively, there is a difference in the services provided. The orchestra produces entertainment as opposed to the security services of the military units (Fedorov, 2001)

Educational institutions such as universities can be likened to living systems. They absorb personnel from the surroundings as their inputs together with other supporting resources. After a period they return to the society-qualified persons as the output. The use of persons makes these institutions similar to the military. The people are taken in and values are added to their skillset through training focusing on efficiency when taking responsibility. An enhancement in the aptitude of the students, lifting up their trade and industry knowledge, teamwork improvement, increased legal know-how and bearing, and use of international practices when studying courses. The general training of persons makes the university system similar to the military system (Flower, 1995).

A living system can be used to describe an organization as it takes in raw materials and synthesizes them into a more useful end product. It also uses the past to predict the future. This is similar in most organizations they utilize inputs focusing on future availability. From an organization’s inputs and outputs, one can be able to know what kind of institution it is. Similarly, living systems have inputs that they use to produce outputs that are having much greater value. For example, farms are planted with seeds and later crops are harvested. The farm seeds are living organisms and therefore produce crops. This is a futuristic phenomenon that is common to organisms and organizations (Flower, 1995).

Organizations can be thought of as organisms as they operate from a myriad of appendages that work independently but collectively to achieve an overall aim. Organisms take in raw materials from the environment and synthesize them into finished products. They do this with expectations of the future. This is similar to organizations such as universities that enable departments to develop and cope with advances in studies. Thinking of the organization as a machine will be relying on a single aspect of the full system. A mechanized system can only reflect what is current or in the past whereas an organism predicts the future (Flower, 1995).

Thinking in terms of systems in organizations can be of use in analysis of the firm. Diagnosis of a functional challenge can be easier if the system theory of an organization is well understood. It has been well understood that organizations are like organisms, they can predict the future by analysis of the past and the quantity and quality of the input. Managers can use a section of the overall organization system to alter the production level. However, this can be only used wisely if there is a factual understanding of the section of the firm (Flower, 1995).

Conclusion

Studies have been done to create awareness to break down the organization structure into cells. This results in a focused approach to inject change where necessary. Sections of the firm are easily managed to use resources more efficiently with predictions of future trends available. As opposed to trying to manage the whole firm, it is more practical to narrow down to where there is need for action and correct it. This will increase productivity with better use of resources.

Managers are therefore advised to be more proactive and learn how to be adaptable. Evolution into new trend will increase the yield of the firm if detected early. Change in the way management is done has continued to evolve over the years and should be welcomed.

List of references

Fedorov, G.S. (2001) The Military Unit as Part of the Armed Forces’ Economic System. Military Thought.

Flower, J. (1995) The Structure Of Organized Change: A conversation with Kevin Kelly. The Healthcare Forum Journal, vol. 38, no. 1, 1995. 

McNamara, C. (2008). Systems Thinking.

Managing Scope Change During Implementation Phase In A Project

Introduction

How one manages change is very vital to the success of a project and more so during its implementation. What the managers do may benefit the entire players or even turn disastrous at the end. Scope change is basically the adjustments made in the products related to a project in regards to its scheduling of activities and/or cost of implementation. It comes about when one or more parties with an interest in the project raise a query concerning its progress and implementation. This will always result to some delay in the scheduling of the project activities and also costs outside the budget may have to be incurred.

Managing change

Why one has to manage scope change at this phase is to ensure that it goes on as scheduled and within approved budget. It also ensures that prioritization of changes is done during the implementation phase at the institutional level. It is important to manage scope change to ensure there is a middle-ground in relation to the interests of all stakeholders (Kumar 2000, p. 591). It will be a bad thing for the entire project and its parties if a section disapproves it and publicly rejects it.

Managing change is not usually an easy task and it requires a lot of careful planning, strong commitment from all parties’ involved and consistent communication. The changes that are so desired by one of the parties have to be looked at into following specified guidelines; not necessarily stated by an individual. According to Turner (2008, p.523) there has to be willingness from all sides and the parties wanting change and those opposed to it should come to a neutral ground. This is enhanced by airing their views on a constant basis until a consensus is arrived at. What comes out clearly is the need to put in consideration the sponsor who gives in the chunk of the financing. He/She goes a long way to ensure the specified targets at every level are met and justified in terms of costs, benefits and other performance criteria.

Reasons for change

Changes occur due to a number of varied reasons such as technical issues related to the project details, outside interferences from other interested parties and also changes in business i.e. the way it is structured. Scope change may also come about as a result of some reviews in the legal processes and laws that may turn certain aspects of the project illegal. At certain instances the scope may be forced to change due to the customer’s new demands. One has to prepare for the unexpected turn of events. For example the project managers have to take into account the smaller and minute changes as opposed to only the large, clearly visible ones (Egger & Kleiner 1992, p.23). This may also involve measuring and assessment of system development stages on a regular basis.

Considerations for change

According to Filicetti (2008), one must also consider two things in scope change management which are: understand the customer and scope creep.

During the on-going implementation of the project, a customer may butt in with the idea that certain aspects be reviewed. It may prove a challenge but since the customer is always right, the implementers must be ready to listen to their views and put it into consideration. The other thing being scope creep, which is the not so pleasing gradual growth of project requirements, can be a reason for this change. Additional fixtures may be required way after the project’s basics have been put in place leaving the door opened for a change in scope. It is with this regard that time constraints need to be looked into since it also determines the realism of the project goals. Even though one expects to achieve the goals of the project, they have to be planned and arrived at in the real world (Longman & Mullins 2004, p.56). One must not have high expectations for something which is not actualized in the short-term.

The provision of intervals in the manner in which projects are released matters much in managing scope change. The managers must ensure that the phases of the project are not jungled up or being put in place in quick succession. Careful project managers in scope change will do everything within their reach to make certain that disasters will not result because one is rushing to reap the benefits of the project. Project phases are released in bits and checks enhanced to ensure that nothing would arise thereby forcing the change of the scope.

When managing scope change, there is no need of opting for the short-cuts after specifying the procedures. Proper documentation is the best and wise way to go and not including any other opinion after the basic procedures are laid down which were agreed by all parties before implementation. The managers have no reason to deviate from what is put down as this could prove risky in the long run. They should oversee the entire project at all times in order to be alert to monitor any scope deviations. This is in order to notice any anomalies as early enough to prevent changes in the scope of the project that has its associated costs.

In the process of the management and it is sensed that the scope of the project may be changed, it’s advisable to get heads rolling as early as possible to prevent a lot of time being wasted in the process. What is managing scope change when other stakeholders are not involved? As a way of minimizing any rift among those involved, the managers must exchange views and share opinion since the process is not an easy task but a manageable one.

Conclusion

In conclusion, emphasis is needed when managing scope change as the life of the project is put to the test. Only what is proved necessary after careful scrutiny is allowed to carry the day as this will prevent and avoid risks that are associated with changing of projects midway and the outside budget costs.

Recommendations

There are a number of ways through which the change could be avoided. This will go a long way to save the drivers of the project the stress associated with the disruption of planned schedule.

It is important that the users are trained and informed to familiarize themselves with the project and its perceived benefits. This is aimed at reducing conflicts of interests from either parties and ensuring efficiency in operations even as the project is being undertaken.

William (1976, p.25) asserts that to avoid the change, those driving the project must get the approval from its top and main sponsors.

Preparation of the scope change will entail liaising with the sponsor concerning additional funding. The issues raised by the players concerned may hold water but it has to get a nodding from the sponsor.

The other thing when it comes to preparing for this activity is organizing a forum where the emerging issues can be discussed. It’s better to tackle with these issues at an earlier time rather than wait till they have become full-blown.

References

Calabrese, AF & Orlando, CY 2006, Deriving a 12-step process to create and implement a comprehensive knowledge management system, VINE Journal, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 36, Issue: 3, pp. 238-254.

Cavaleri, S & Reed, F 2008, Leading dynamically complex projects, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 1, Issue: 1, pp 71-87.

Dooley, L., Lupton, G & O’Sullivan, D 2005, Multiple project management: a modern competitive necessity, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 16, Issue: 5, pp 466-482.

Egger, FP & Kleiner, BH 1992, New Developments in Project Scheduling, Logistics Information Management Journal, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 5, Issue: 1, pp 22-24.

Großler, A 2007, A dynamic view on strategic resources and capabilities applied to an example from the manufacturing strategy literature, Case study, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management; Vol. 18 Issue: 3.

Kumar, DP 2000, Managing projects in fast track – A case of public sector organization in India, International Journal of Public Sector Management, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 13, Issue: 7 pp 588-609.

Loo, R 1996, Training in project management: a powerful tool for improving individual and team performance, Team Performance Management Journal, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 2, Issue: 3, pp 6-14.

Longman, A. & Mullins, J 2004, Project management: key tool for implementing strategy, Journal of Business Strategy, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 25, Issue: 5, pp 54-60.

Maguire, S & Udechukwu, O 2008, Market-led systems development: when customers become users, Industrial Management & Data Systems Journal, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 108 Issue: 2.

Pekar, P 1989, How battle-tested managers assess strategic alliances, Strategy and Leadership Journal, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 17, Issue: 4, pp. 34-37.

Smith, B & Dodds, B 1993, THE POWER OF PROJECTS IN MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT, Industrial and Commercial Training Journal, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 25, Issue: 10.

Taskinen, T & Smeds, R 1999, Measuring change project management in manufacturing, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 19, Issue: 11, pp 1168-1187

Turner, R & Lloyd-Walker, B 2008, Emotional Intelligence (EI) capabilities training: can it develop EI in project teams? International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 1, Issue: 4, pp 512-534.

Ofer, Z & Amnon, G 2007, Project execution game (PEG): training towards managing unexpected events, Journal of European Industrial Training, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Vol. 31, Issue: 6.

William, KH 1976, Rationality, irrationality, and the policy formulation process in large organizations, Strategy & Leadership Journal, MCB UP Ltd, Vol. 4, Issue: 3, pp. 22 – 26.

Muckraking: Sinclair And Riis Impact

Muckraking in the historical context

Muckraking is simply investigative journalism with a leaning towards exposing corruption in government and institutions involving public trust. It is also associated with revolutionary ideas and concerns of reform in government and public institutions. Originally, the term ‘Muckrakers’ was coined to refer to American writers involved in reform literature in the period just before World War I.

During this period America was industrializing fast and factory workers were the engine of the economy but they mostly worked under horrid conditions. The literary works that exposed misuse of laborers, the proliferation of child labor, and inhuman working conditions were imaged in muckraking journalism; literary scholars classified this form of literature as expose literature.

The 1890s were years of sensational magazine articles that criticized official corruption. This was called ‘Yellow Journalism’ and it gave birth to muckraking which was a fervent literary assault on misuse of power. Reporters and writers moved from sensationalism to more concrete accurate exposition aimed at public knowledge.

The public of pre-World War I was hungry for literature that exposed industrial corruption and for good reason; the capitalistic society that was America had little thought for societal concerns involving social responsibility. Business and factory owners were in a rush to grow bucks and hoping to give back the least to the community that worked for them while most of the time exploiting the workers through low wages and poor working conditions. There was a felt need for industrial and government reform and the writers were anxious to point it out.

The public became the driving force for change and the muckrakers became the catalysts. Names like Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, and Ida M. Tarbell became known for their scathing articles on government and labor. Upon Sinclair and Jacob Riis wrote books that led to significant changes in U.S legislation.

Journalistic accounts became preoccupied with issues of political/economic corruption and social hardships in the United States.

Comparison and contrast

Upton Sinclair’s novel ‘The Jungle’ was written in 1906. It is about the downtrodden workers in the meatpacking factories of America at the time, which consisted of main immigrants. The novel depicts the hopelessness and poverty of the working class under the behest of unyielding capitalism madness where social programs were non-existent.

The book criticized the system and the powers that be and called for revolutionary action by ordinary Americans. Upton Sinclair had Socialist ideas that viewed the wage system as oppressive, unfair; a form of slavery.

The climax of the plot offers a description to unmask the ills faced by workers in meat factories as well as the unhygienic and dirty conditions occasioned in the processes of preparing and packaging the meat. The storyline is aimed at addressing the social hardships of middle-class Americans at the time and the problems that faced their daily working lives.

The meat factor, though not the main theme of the book, took precedent as it stood out among the readers who demanded and rallied for investigations into the meat business, calling on the government to act. The message in the book was very clear that progressive change would not succeed with the existing political alignment.

Like Upton Sinclair, John August Riis was a newspaper reporter and a ‘muckraker’ whose work was inclined towards crusading for social reform. He became famous for his literary and photographic description of New York slums. Inspired by his experiences from New York City’s Lower East Side where people were crammed in filthy tenements, he wrote his renowned book ‘How the Other Half Lives’ in 1890.

Like Sinclair, Riis wrote to expose the ragged life of U.S citizens, in particular addressing the plight of the poor workers especially their squalid living conditions. But unlike Sinclair, Riis employed the use of photographs to describe the rooms, the hallways, buildings and the scruffy conditions of the tenements. He also dramatized his lectures using these photographs. Davis (2000) views this style of photography in terms of “social reform,”

Both Sinclair and Riis managed to rally the masses to protest exploitation and negligence by the government. Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ caused a stir that compelled Roosevelt to send commissioners for a meat inspection exercise in the meat factories. Both authors were largely part of the pressure that culminated in the passing of two legislative laws: Sinclair’s novel drew events that led to the passage of the ‘Meat Inspection Act and the ‘Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906’. Riis’ book caused fresh New York legislation on tenement housing.

Key Issues Illuminated

Misery of immigrants

The main character in the novel is Jurgis Rudkus, who is an immigrant from Lithuania. He is portrayed as naïve and honest, a farm boy who is oblivious of the powerful forces of American industrial capitalism. His hope to earn and make a decent living for his family quickly disintegrates and he gradually loses all hope of succeeding in his adopted country.

Ruckus’s fears and culture shock are heightened by the tragedies of losing his bride Ona, who dies in childbirth since they can’t afford the price for a doctor. Rudkus flees the city after his son drowns in the muddy street.

Economic Oppression through exploitation

The novel opens with a wedding feast where Rudkus and his bride have spent what the ordinary folk would call a fortune in expenses. Sinclair describes a sorry financial state of the commoner when he talks about the “men who cannot earn three hundred dollars in a year, only to spend such a sum, all in a single day of your life, at a wedding feast!” (Sinclair, 1906, p.2)

Riis’ ‘Mulberry Bend’ photographs depict horrid shacks and desperate faces of children in tenements that look like dirty chicken pens. In one of Riis’ photographs, the men’s Lodging Room in the West 47th Street Station has no beds and the men are lying on the floor with pieces of tatters for cover. Behind them is what looks like garbage or scraps of wood.

Oppression through violation of human rights

A horrid account of how some of the men processing the meat fall into the vaults and get ground together with the meat to emerge as “Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard” (Sinclair, 1906, p. 99) A pitiful account of child labor is found in chapter one where little children are part of the workforce. They were innocent children subjected to harsh conditions including cold and inhuman acts without any remorse.

Capitalism Flaws

Rudkus embraces socialist ideas when he wanders into a lecture being given by a socialist orator. The speech gives him renewed purpose and hope. The speaker acclaims the importance of labor unions which Rudkus sees as a solution to his afflictions; this discontentment with capitalism is shown in the socialist rally where the rioters are chanting “Chicago will be ours!”

Even the beggars have usurped a capitalist spirit, as is illuminated in the story; the contrasts come out in what befalls the men who get injured in the factories only to turn into hopeless beggars in the streets “And each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart’s desire; each was full of self-confidence, of self-importance, and a sense of dignity. (Sinclair, 1906, p. 35)

Corruption Ills

Corruption seems to run the city of Chicago, where everyone demands a tip and powerful individuals seek bribes. Police officers and government officers must be paid off, while con men and blackmailers permeate daily life.

Muckraking – to – Progressivism

We may view progressivism as a synonym for reform in the context of its birth and conception. As Harold Tallant (N.d) puts it, it was generally a spirit embraced by Americans from all walks of life during the early twentieth century. Progressivism occurred as the society was seeking social justice after many years of oppression. It followed the end of the civil war in the early 1900s where major immorality was witnessed in the corporate and political environments. For instance, the end of the civil war gave rise to industrialization, urbanization and globalization. This led to a massive change of attitude by the rich and the governments, who exploited the poor by forcing them to work under very poor conditions – they preferred money instead of the well-being of the workers. Free markets were abolished and immorality took center stage with corruption implanting itself in the minds of the rich. Since social injustice was at its worst, American reformers initiated movements to disclaim the injustice to society.

These movements of progressivism can be related to the muckraking work of Sinclair and Riis in that; they were both fighting the same war of liberating the poor and the weak from the chains of social, economic and political injustice. The work of Riis was aimed at exposing the contrasting lifestyles of the poor and the rich through the use of photography and in the process campaign for the reforms that could help to eradicate the social and political vice practiced at the time. In addition, Sinclair campaigned for reforms in the health care and the labor market. His view was that people were being exploited by the production organization and therefore there was a need for democracy in the organizations to ensure social justice was upheld; and hygiene which includes purity of foot was important for building healthy cultures and persons (Duvall, 2002).

Progressivisms campaigned for democratic ideals such as the secret ballot during elections and efficiency in the way public offices were run. They crusaded for Social Justice and Regulation of Large Corporations and Monopolies who controlled the industrial boom. This was also echoed by both Riis and Sinclair who used different means to campaign for social justice in the workforce and to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich.

The Legacies

Sinclair and Riis heralded a significant era in journalism redefining the role of the fourth estate as a medium for opinion formation. They also asserted the place of literature in society and its potency in influencing the worldview, lifestyle and daily lives of people. Their main themes were of course issues to do with social justice and social responsibility as well as good citizenship and patriotism.

Their flair for reform transformed American society in ways that only literary appeal can achieve. The pen is mightier than the sword may have been a grand slogan for these writers and their quest for telling their version of the truth is as historical as is the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

Many other writers who came after can give their credit to the works of Riis and Sinclair who have had an impact on the community. Through their work, many developments have been witnessed in the society including improvement of health, justice in the labor market, corruption has subsided and racial discrimination has gone to the wire. The poor who had no voice in the earlier years are now able to talk their hearts out and the oppressions they received from the rich have subsided. In addition, the animosity that existed between the society and the rich people has been done with and the society is today more united than at any other time. The notion or stereotype that the poor became poorer due to immorality and trying to cleanse the rich as moral has taken a different direction in modern society.

The impact of Sinclair and Riis on the social, economic and political reforms can not be undermined. Indeed Americans and the world, in general, have borrowed a lesson from the writings of these two journalists. For instance, health care and government systems of the current generation have their roots in muckraking. In addition, the use of photography in delivering messages has been ingrained in contemporary journalism when describing the social, political, economic and even environmental influences on society.

It is their evidence that the works of the two journalists were not only aimed at enlightening the society about their rights but also bore some wonderful fruits which are umpteenth enjoyed by the current generations and which is likely to be carried forward to the next generations. The reforms experienced in all spheres of political, economic and social environment originate from the credited work of Sinclair and Riis. Many societies have been liberated from the chains of oppression (just to mention, the black’s liberation from slavery and forced labor) and the attitudes of the society have changed considerably. The poor are no longer viewed as weak but as important people in society.

References

Blakwel, J. (Nd). Rumble Over the Jungle. 2009. Web. 

Davis, K. (2003). Photography and Social Reform, University of Virginia. 2009. Web.

Davis, K. (2003). The Reporter of Mulberry Bend. 2009. Web. 

Duvall, J. M. (2002). The processes of Elimination: Progressive-Era Hygienic Ideology, Waste, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. 2009. Web.

Riis, J. (N.d). Photographs Slideshow. 2009. Web.

Sinclair, U. (1906). The Jungle. NY, Doubleday Jabber & Company publishers, USA.

Tallant, H.D. (N.d). Progressivism. Georgetown College. 2009. Web.

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