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Systems Thinking Prof Roger Maull Innovation and Service Research University of Exeter

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Presentation on theme: "Systems Thinking Prof Roger Maull Innovation and Service Research University of Exeter"— Presentation transcript:

1 Systems Thinking Prof Roger Maull Innovation and Service Research University of Exeter

2 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

3 Agenda  Why systems thinking is needed  Systems Thinking Reductionism  Systems Approaches SoSM SSM/SD  Ashby LRV  Lumpers or Splitters

4 Why Systems?  Managerial control problem  Incentives problem  Staffing problem  Boundary problem  No problem ‘phone hacking is not company practice’

5 Reductionism  Breaking problems down into their component parts  Analysis Derives an explanation of the whole from an explanation of the parts BUT

6 Assumptions 1. Weak connections. Law of unintended consequences 2. The relationship between the parts must be linear so that the parts can be summed together to make the whole. Non-linearity, time delays 3. Optimising each part will optimise the whole. Theory of second best 4. Closed system

7 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)

8 Types of System 1. Natural Systems; hierarchy of physical systems which make up the universe, (atoms, plants……) 2. Designed Physical Systems; these systems occur because they have been designed, (bridge or an automated decision system) 3. Designed Abstract systems; Checkland calls the ordered conscious product of the mind. Examples include mathematics or language or philosophy. 4. Human Activity Systems *Socio-Technical System ; These consist of people carrying out purposeful activity.

9 Systems thinking Open systems Tradition Emergence, Hierarchy Cybernetics Communication, Control Management Systems What is a system? How does it behave?

10 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)

11 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 )

12 Systems simple / pluralistSimple / unitarysimple / coercive coercive Complex / unitary Participants complex / coercive Systems Dynamics Organisational Cybernetics Complexity theory complex / pluralist Post Modern pluralist Emancipatory unitary Hard Systems Thinking: Operations Research complex Soft Systems Approaches simple Systems Thinking Approaches Analysis based on M.C. Jackson’s System of System Methodologies

13 Systems Dynamics

14 SSM 1. Learn about a problem situation 2. Formulate purposeful activity models 3. Debate the situation using the models Desirable and culturally feasible Accommodations between conflicting interests 4. Take action to improve


16 Variety  Ashby’s law of requisite variety D TE R D TE

17 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

18 Types of variety?  What variability?  http://www.youtub wtfNE4z6a8 http://www.youtub wtfNE4z6a8  Everyone wants something different DSC03439

19 Types of Variability (Frei) 1. Arrival, customers arrive at different times 2. Request, customers want different things 3. Capability, the capability of the customer involved in producing the service 4. Effort, how much effort the customer puts in 5. Subjective preference – customers opinion on the service experience If we have variability we need to know how much Why? Volume

20 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

21 The disturbance model Qualities Components Variety as a count: how many different states can dimension be in Real time – when does the disturbance occur Frequency of occurrence of each state Spread of states Impact of each state Arrival Volume Arrival time Requests made by/for customers Capability of customer to do Effort customer willing to exert Subjective preference for how delivered

22 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

23 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)

24 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?

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