Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Notes on Chapter 10 - Systems Practice

Pg 243
Users of systemic inquiry must be capable of:
  1. Understanding situations in context (now and past)
  2. Appreciating multiple stakeholders and perspectives
  3. Addressing and clarifying questions of purpose
  4. Distinguishing between how & why
  5. Facilitating action which is purposeful and systematically desirable / culturally feasible
  6. Orchestrate understanding - co-evolutionary dynamics
  7. Institutionalising use of approach
Pg 244
Systemic inquiry is a meta-platform for project or program management

Pg 245
Churchman defined inquiry as an activity which produces knowledge
Churchman recognised the central role of the practitioner in any process of inquiry

Pg 246
Systemic inquiry = device for enabling systems practice that acknowledges and addresses uncertainty.

Pg 248
Critical activity in conducting a systemic inquiry
  1. Make sense of...
  2. Tease out... accomodations
  3. Define possible actions
Pg 249
Social learning is one or more of the following processes:
  1. Convergence of goals, criteria and knowledge leading to awareness of mutual expectations
  2. Co-creation of knowledge which provides insight into the history of and the means required to transform a situation
  3. Change in behaviour resulting from understanding gained through doing
  4. Emergent property of the process of transforming a situation
I want to create a social learning culture across MD&D plan - but I don't know how to do this in a virtual environment... has anyone ever achieved this?

Pg 255
Workshop design
Part 1 Expose differences in understanding amongst participants
Part 2 Define the nature of the issues (reflection on part 1)
Part 3 Activity models to enable participants to gain a more systemic understanding
Part 4 Proposals for next steps and review of learning / evaluation

Pg 257/8
Persyst was a collaboration between personnel and the systems department at OU... carried out virtually.
"Ironically, the act of mainstreaming commissioned persyst to the margins"
I wonder why?

My attempt at a narrative about a sticky situation

The aim of my business (like most I guess) is profitability. I work in the supply chain, and once the hygiene factor of product availability has been met, we are only able to impact profitability through reducing costs.

This has led to the implementation of a concept of "cost improvement projects" or CIPs. In the early days, these were genuine attempts to remove unnecessary costs from the business. The projects chosen were true opportunities to reduce cost, and were in addition to any business planning. this meant, if they succeeded, that was good news, and if they failed, well, it was not the end of the world.

Since then, the idea of CIPs has become quite a divisive instrument in the business.

Our organisation is structured along functional lines - which leaves us vulnerable to silo thinking (or smoke stacks in the olden, non American days!) where each function is really only concerned with achieving their own targets. This structure is relatively new, so there is a strong desire on the part of the functional leadership to prove that the structure is a good one, and that it is driving tangible benefits to the business... And that each functional head is better than their colleagues...

So, back to the CIPs. THey started life as voluntary incremental projects, which would improve the costs beyond the business plan commitment. CIPs have now become an integrated part of the business planning process.

As a functional cost centre owner, I submit my best estimate of how much it will cost to run the department for the following year. Once that has been submitted, an incremental CIPs target is handed out to each cost centre.

At this point, all business leaders clamour to stake a claim for incremental projects, that may even not belong in their remit, in order to meet their CIPs target.

High levels of resource and effort is expended in arguing about who owns each CIP project. In addition, predictably, CIPs tend to be contradictory (as an example, this year there are two initiatives - one to reduce transportation costs, which will increase leadtimes.... and another to reduce inventory in the warehouses...)

This is now at the extreme point that a department has been established to "manage the CIPs list". One of their primary functions is to arbitrate CIPs ownership claims from the various functions.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of this sticky situation is that even after all that effort, it is virtually impossible to hold anybody accountable for delivery of the promised saving which often does not materialise. This means that the overall profitability of the business is impacted. Sadly, this then increases the pressure on finding more CIPs and puts more strain on the inter-functional relationships.

Monday, 31 October 2011

SAQ 1.1 What elements combine to create a practice performance?

There are four elements that are present in a practice performance.

The first is the practitioner (or the person...) This is the person making the intervention which is called the "practice performance". This can be at two levels - the person thinking about the practice may or may not be the same person as the person engaged in the practice.

The second element is the situation that the practitioner engages with.

Thirdly, the practitioner views the situation via a framework of knowledge and assumptions about the situation.

Finally, the practitioner chooses a method to apply to the situation.

Walking as a practice - Activity 1.10

OK - if you are reading this (and lord knows why you would be) I apologise. This is an academic activity - and in addition is also probably not anatomically correct.

If you are looking for intelligent comment on systems... this is really not the day (and if you are looking for a serious analysis of how we walk, this will never be the place!)

So, my left heel touches the floor, and as the weight transfers onto my left foot from my right, the left foot rolls until heel, ball and outer edge of the foot are all in contact with the floor. as this happens the left knee bends slightly.

As this weight transfer takes place, there is a swivel in the hips - which I think is caused by the muscles in my stomach.

Once the weight has been totally transfered, the left leg straightens a little and the right leg bends, causing the heel of the right foot to roll up.

As the right foot rolls, and the ball of the foot leaves the floor, the right knee bends, and there is another hip swivel (again through stomach muscles tensing) which kicks the right foot forward.

At this point my slipper fell off - but I think you have the idea!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

My very first systems map

OK, so prior to the activity to create a blog, I had to create a systems map of the course I am studying (TU812 with the Open University)

To be honest - this blog post is more of an experiment on how to share pictures. Seems to work ok I think.

I might do more of this!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Blogging day one

OK, I can't hide it - I hate this. This post is purely driven by Activity 1.7 of the OU course I am doing. They insist on my creating a blog and using it for systematic thinking... This post is "some notes on my initial reaction to this task"...

I quote:

"If done systematically and consistently (your blog) can become an important resource...." yada yada...

For anyone who knows me well, there are two words in that sentence which will bring me down! "Systematically" and "consistently" I have never been either in my life. Not to say I don't want to be, or don't have good intentions. I've had various attempts at blogs in my time (some of them are even here!) So, lets give this a go - but if you are reading this, honestly I do not think it is going to be the most enlightening blog on the internet.

Actually, I think it's important to point out that whilst blogging is not playing to my strengths, systemic thinking is. So, maybe if ever I can get past the horror of blogging, and can communicate my enthusiasm for the methodology, maybe, just maybe it will get better!