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Systems Thinking. Prof Roger Maull Innovation and Service Research University of Exeter r.s.maull@ex.ac.uk. Innovation and Service Research. Using systems theory to underpin service research (Information Processing) Service systems design Technical and experiential aspects.

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systems thinking

Systems Thinking

Prof Roger Maull

Innovation and Service Research

University of Exeter

r.s.maull@ex.ac.uk

innovation and service research
Innovation and Service Research
  • Using systems theory to underpin service research (Information Processing)
  • Service systems design
    • Technical and experiential aspects.
  • Research on
    • Linking customer satisfaction/loyalty and BPM
    • Business process architectures
    • Importance of variety in process design
    • Process re-design guidelines
    • 5 components of BPM
    • Impact of capacity on systems performance
    • Complex service systems
agenda
Agenda
  • Why systems thinking is needed
  • Systems Thinking
    • Reductionism
  • Systems Approaches
    • SoSM
    • SSM/SD
  • Ashby LRV
  • Lumpers or Splitters
why systems
Why Systems?
  • Managerial control problem
  • Incentives problem
  • Staffing problem
  • Boundary problem
  • No problem ‘phone hacking is not company practice’
reductionism
Reductionism
  • Breaking problems down into their component parts
  • Analysis
    • Derives an explanation of the whole from an explanation of the parts

BUT

assumptions
Assumptions
  • Weak connections. Law of unintended consequences
  • The relationship between the parts must be linear so that the parts can be summed together to make the whole. Non-linearity, time delays
  • Optimising each part will optimise the whole. Theory of second best
  • Closed system
systems thinking1
Systems Thinking

the central concept of a system embodies the idea of a set of elements connected together which form a whole this showing properties which are properties of the whole rather than properties of its component parts. (Checkland 1981)

the relationships between the elements are just if not more important than the elements themselves the interconnections, the compatibility the effect of one upon the other…...must receive more attention that the parts (Forrester 1956 p 6)

types of system
Types of System
  • Natural Systems;

hierarchy of physical systems which make up the universe, (atoms, plants……)

  • Designed Physical Systems;

these systems occur because they have been designed, (bridge or an automated decision system)

  • Designed Abstract systems;

Checkland calls the ordered conscious product of the mind. Examples include mathematics or language or philosophy.

  • Human Activity Systems*Socio-Technical System;

These consist of people carrying out purposeful activity

.

systems thinking2
Systems thinking

What is a system?

How does it behave?

Open systems

Tradition

Emergence, Hierarchy

Cybernetics

Communication, Control

Management Systems

epistemology
Epistemology
  • Systems are encountered everywhere in the universe (Wu)
  • We constantly encounter and participate in numerous forms of systems (Smith).
  • Out there to be discovered. OR
  • Heuristic device, a mental tool to aid in discovery (Weinberg)
systems thinking3
Systems Thinking
  • Problem contexts become more difficult to manage as they exhibit greater complexity, change and diversity, arising from two sources:
  • Systems – as they become larger and subject to more turbulence
    • (simple to complex)
  • Participants – (those with an interest in the problem situation) as their values beliefs and interests start to diverge
    • (unitary to pluralistic to coercive)
systems thinking approaches
Systems Thinking Approaches

Participants

pluralist

unitary

coercive

Simple / unitary

simple / pluralist

simple / coercive

Hard Systems

Thinking:

Operations

Research

Emancipatory

simple

Soft

Systems

Approaches

Systems

Systems Dynamics

Organisational

Cybernetics

Complexity theory

Post Modern

complex

Complex / unitary

complex / pluralist

complex / coercive

Analysis based on M.C. Jackson’s System of System Methodologies

slide14
SSM
  • Learn about a problem situation
  • Formulate purposeful activity models
  • Debate the situation using the models
    • Desirable and culturally feasible
    • Accommodations between conflicting interests
  • Take action to improve
variety

T

T

E

E

D

D

R

Variety
  • Ashby’s law of requisite variety
variety1
Variety
  • How much variety does a service process* have to absorb?
    • What is the input?
    • How much variety is there?
    • What are the different types?
  • Service processes have a significant customer input (Sampson UST)
  • 4 types, customer self, mind, information and belongings
types of variety

DSC03439

Types of variety?
  • What variability?
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wtfNE4z6a8
  • Everyone wants something different
types of variability frei
Types of Variability (Frei)
  • Arrival, customers arrive at different times
  • Request, customers want different things
  • Capability, the capability of the customer involved in producing the service
  • Effort, how much effort the customer puts in
  • Subjective preference – customers opinion on the service experience

If we have variability we need to know how much

Why?

Volume

qualities of variety
Qualities of “variety”*
  • Simple count of states
  • Actual time of disturbance
  • Frequency of occurrence of each state
  • Spread / Closeness of states
  • Impact of each state

* Capri conference paper

useful things about systems thinking
Useful things about ‘systems thinking’
  • Systemic concepts eg boundary, Weltanschauung, relationships, control, systemic concepts
  • It doesn’t arbitrarily split things up
    • Conforms more closely to problems of the ‘real world’
  • Checkland’s, what? how? why?
    • System in focus ±1
  • Systems thinkers have a problem with cause/effect
tricky things
Tricky things
  • Its a great idea but its hard
  • Systems journals are 1-2*, soft OR does get published in 3-4*
  • Doesn’t build theory
    • Is it ‘a theory’? (it doesn’t say if this then this)
issues
Issues
  • Advice, buy a copy, read it, let it influence you BUT don’t build your research on it
  • Recognise you have ‘reduced’, make that clear, consider the limitations
  • Are you a lumper or a splitter?