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2.1 The importance of sine waves

For much of the rest of this unit we shall be concerned with the properties of a type of sound wave that when represented as a graph has a characteristic shape known as a sine wave. Figure 1 shows you what a sine-wave graph looks like. For the moment you need not be concerned with what this grap
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Introduction

This unit contains material that is essential to learning about music technology. Here you will explore the concept of sound and be introduced to the physics behind travelling pressure waves as the physical manifestation of sound. You will also learn about the subjective perception of pitch and loudness, in particular their relationship to frequency and amplitude.

This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University courseAuthor(s): The Open University

16.5 Where does the systems practitioner stand in relation to a system of interest?

Systems practice may be carried out individually or as part of a team. In doing action research – which is a form of managing – an important question is: On us or with us? (Figure 47). This question seems pertinent to the process that led to the establishment of the Child Support
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16.4 Managing for emergence and self-organisation

It might be useful to re-read Box 4 before starting this section. In this example, the terms ‘open’ and ‘closed’ were used on several occasions. You have already encountered the term ‘closed system’. You were told that human beings are closed systems in terms of inputs to
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6.1 Perspectives on managing

My focus in this section is on the M ball being juggled by a systems practitioner. My purpose is to enable you to appreciate the diversity of activities that might constitute managing. More specifically, I am concerned with the type of managing a systems practitioner might undertake. When you began Part 3, Section 4, I asked you to complete an activity (Author(s): The Open University

5.10 Contextualising any particular systems approach

The capacity to put any systems approach into context is based on the ability of a practitioner to appreciate their own traditions of understanding and to make connections with the history of particular systems methods or methodologies, or to formulate their own. Above all, there is a need to learn from using them and to achieve outcomes that are agreed by those involved as worthwhile. This is a level of systems practice to which you can aspire.

At the beginning of Part 3, Section 5 I p
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Systems dynamics

In the 1950s, Jay Forrester, a systems engineer at MIT, was commissioned by the US company Sprague Electric to study the extreme oscillations of their sales and establish a means to correct them. From previous experience, Forrester knew the essence of the problem stemmed from the oscillations present in situations that contain inertia effects, or delays and reverse effects, or feedback loops as basic structural characteristics.

Subsequently, in 1961, Forrester published his report on in
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5.9 Developing other systems methods

There are many more methods that are regarded as systems approaches for managing complexity (e.g. Rosenhead, 1989a; Flood and Carson, 1988; Flood and Jackson, 1991; Mingers and Gill, 1997; Francois, 1997; Flood, 1999; Jackson, 2000). The systems practitioners responsible for developing these come from a varied background, but in the main their experiences are similar to those described for Checkland, Beer, Espejo and the T301 team. All wanted to be able either to take action that stakeholders
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5.2 What are systems approaches?

An approach is a way of going about taking action in a ‘real world’ situation, as depicted in Figure 20. As I have outlined earlier, an observer has choices that can be made for coping with complexity. Here I am assuming that because this unit is about systems approaches, a choi
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5.1 Introduction

In this section, I shall explore the features of the contextualising (systems-methods) ball – the C ball. I will make a distinction between systemic and systematic thinking and action and I will argue that the aware systems practitioner has more choices than the practitioner who is not aware.

An aware practitioner is able to contextualise a diverse array of methods at their disposal creating an opportunity for a greater range of advantageous changes in the ‘real world’ situation.
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4.6 Appreciating some implications for practice

I think for most people, the CSA case study would be experienced as a complex situation. If so this would be a good example of perceived complexity. Remember though, if you engaged with it as if it were a difficulty, just as the government minister did in Activity 42, you would not d
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3.4 Experience – making distinctions based on a tradition and constructing a history

Experience, and learning from experience, will be a major theme throughout this unit. The model of experiential learning developed by David Kolb is increasingly well known and used as a conceptual basis for the design of all sorts of processes from curricula to consultancies (Figure 32
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3.3 Appreciating your basis for understanding

In my experience, the explanation that Fell and Russell suggest (i.e. that we each construct our own version of reality and therefore cannot be an objective observer; which in turn means we have to take responsibility for our observations and explanations) is challenging for many people. When I attend workshops where these ideas are expressed for the first time, people often become angry. You may be able to identify with them. If so, please try to use your discomfort productively for your own
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10 Part 2: 6 Review

In Part 2 of this unit, you have undertaken a major piece of work. In encountering the case study you were engaging with a set of events, issues, actors, stakeholders and intentions that was, by any standards, complex. In addition, you brought your own complexity to it, your own stakeholdings and understandings, your own reactions and feelings.

You used systems diagrams to structure the complexity you encountered in the case study. That then structured and clarified the situation in way
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9.7 Control-model diagrams

Perhaps, like me, you are beginning to form the view there were some ambiguities about purpose in the case-study situation. Control models are a useful way of investigating purpose and the means in place to achieve it. They address issues like ‘What is X trying to achieve?’ ‘How are they trying to do it?’ and ‘How will they know when they've done it?’ Control-model diagrams provide a structure for exploring these questions. The drawing of the model allows you to decide whet
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9.6 Sign graphs

Next, in the exercising of your diagramming skills, I want to look at sign graphs. Unlike the three diagram types you have already drawn, a sign graph is not usually used to structure the understanding of complexity. This means it is likely to be relatively less useful in the task of searching for system within the complex situation described in the case study. Sign graphs can, however, be useful once some elements of system have been identified. They can support the exploration of
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9.1 Making sense of complexity

This section is about finding ways of thinking about complex situations – making sense of complexity. This is a process of discovery. It involves thinking about complexity in an orderly way that allows you to enter a deeper understanding of the complexity. It goes beyond immersion in, and representation of, complexity.

The invitation I am making in this section is to move into the possibility of structuring complexity. Notice I am not suggesting there is structure in the
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8.2 Stakeholder traps

I've found it's not at all uncommon to discover I have a stake in a situation. Complex situations often spread their tentacles into all sorts of areas, so that the number of people touched by them can be very large. This increases the chances of an individual acquiring a stake, even an indirect or second hand one. The human capacity to empathise draws me into a situation so that I form pre-judgements about fairness, blame and so on without really trying. In many ways this is to be welcomed
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7.3 Getting out of traps

Remember to date your rich picture and not to throw away any previous versions. Old versions of rich pictures provide you with a record of your developing understanding.

The next activity is an invitation to improve your rich picture by digging yourself out of any of the traps you may have fallen into. In this activity, I suggest a certain ruthlessness in reviewing your efforts so far. You should not, however, see this as an evaluation of your performance in the task. My experience is t
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7.2 Complexity and rich pictures

This section is mostly concerned with thinking about your rich picture and the complex situation it depicts.

There are lots of ways of drawing a good rich picture and very few ways of drawing bad rich pictures. So my next strategy in supporting your learning, and your experience of this complex situation, is to propose a number of checks you might use to ensure you have not fallen into the trap of the less-effective rich picture.

Although my discussion will focus on rich pictures,
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