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5.4 Methodology, method, technique, and tools

As you engage with systems thinking and practice you will become aware how different authors refer to systems methodologies, methods, techniques, and tools, as well as systems approaches. Having just spent some time explaining what I mean by a systems approach, I now want to distinguish between methodology, method, technique and tool.

Several authors and practitioners have emphasised the significance of the term methodologies rather than methods in relation to Systems. A method i
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3.5 Distinctions about systems practice

A tension has existed throughout the history of Western thought around whether to focus on parts or the whole. The practice that springs from this history carries the same tension. This tension has been particularly visible within science and philosophy for a long time and it gives rise to different approaches. I will be addressing these tensions in Author(s): The Open University

3.1 The state of ‘Being’

The structure of Section 3 is set out in Figure 25. Use this as a way of keeping track of the argument I am making.

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Part 2: 1 Introduction

I have a number of purposes in mind as I write Part 2. You can read these in conjunction with Figure 4.


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14 Part 2: 5 Self-assessment questions

SAQ 4

What are the four main factors that motivate individuals to invent?

Answer

Individuals are motivated to invent by one or more factors:

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11.3 Step 2 – exploration

This is the period when, following the identification of the problem, attempts are made to understand it better and to make a stab at designing a solution. This might be a short process or it could take years and involve a detailed search for information, experimenting with different designs, even redefining the problem as a result of this activity.

Alexander Graham Bell adopted a problem-focused strategy when exploring the problem of designing a working telephone. This strategy is one
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10.6 What drives invention in organisations?

Much invention and nearly all innovation nowadays take place inside organisations – from small start-up companies to well-established multinationals. This is mainly because increasingly invention and innovation require access to technology and resources beyond the scope of most individuals. But it is also because competitiveness and survival depend on the continual improvement of a company's products and processes. This provides a strong incentive for companies to invest in both the increme
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10.5 Desire to help others

This is a less common motivation but it shows not everyone is driven by money.

In 1991 the inventor Trevor Baylis saw a BBC documentary about the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. What was needed was a way of broadcasting the safe-sex message to people in areas without electricity and where batteries for a radio could cost a month's wages. Solar power wouldn't necessarily help as most people who could get to a radio listened in the evening after work. While absorbing this information he ima
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1.3.1 Systems thinking and concept

Much can be said about systems thinking. However it is worth reiterating some key points here as they are central to understanding the purpose of the diagrams discussed later in this section.

The word system is one that is in regular everyday use. People talk, for example, about ‘the social security system’ and the ‘telephone system’. Gamblers boast about ‘having a system’ for winning at roulette. Young people talk about being ‘against the system’.

The trouble with
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Introduction

Pictures speak louder than words. But how can you use diagrams to help you? This unit looks at how diagrams can be used to represent information and ideas about complex situations. You will learn how to read, draw and present diagrams to help illustrate how ideas or processes are connected.

This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Systems thinking and practice: diagramming (T552) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us
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12.1.1 Survey questionnaires

Questionnaires are lists of questions that enable information to be gathered efficiently from a relatively large number of respondents. Most questionnaires require a fixed type of response, such as a choice between available answers, or along a scale of response. For example, a product design questionnaire might suggest, ‘I found the product easy to use’ and provide a five-point scale of response from ‘agree strongly’ to ‘disagree strongly’. Or a question might be, ‘how often do
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10 User research techniques: observing users

This section introduces an alternative to basing user research on yourself. This is observation of experienced and inexperienced users either in experimental or natural situations.

One way around the difficulties of basing research on oneself is to observe other people acting as users and to choose naive or different kinds of experienced users, depending on what information you want to gather.

Begin by identifying those experienced users who will be able to provide you with releva
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9.1.1 Point of view

Decide first of all which user's point of view you are taking: consumer, operator, maintenance person, and so on. You may want to make several trips, from different user perspectives, or try special user perspectives, such as that of a disabled person. It is usually easiest to take a consumer's trip because you may need special permission, access, and perhaps skills, before you can take any other.


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8.1.1 Visibility

Recall that a key usability design feature identified by Donald Norman – from his analysis of using everyday objects such as doors – was visibility. An everyday object such as a door, or a control such as a button on a product should appear to be obvious about how it is used, and indeed it should perform that obvious function. For example, is it obvious how you insert a disc into a player? Is it obvious how you switch the machine on, adjust volume, and so on?


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8.1 Making usable products

This section reveals that many modern products need to usable by our minds as much as our bodies. Products need to be understandable, and present information and feedback in meaningful ways.

A lot of ergonomics research is aimed at establishing guidelines, standards or rules that can be applied by designers in a variety of situations. Where this applies to the physical use of products, much of it is based on standard body measurements. These body measurements are known as anthropomet
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4 Who are the users?

This section reveals that ‘users’ can include a wide variety of people – not just the final purchasers or consumers of a product. The section also makes the case for strong user representation in the design process.

Of course, it is not only me who uses the various products in my home; other people use them as well, both members of the family and visitors. Sometimes the range of users of a product, and their different needs, can be diverse. And in addition to the obvious or intend
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5.7.1 Mixed oxidant gases system

This is a relatively new system of disinfection. It involves electrolysis of high-purity NaCl brine to produce a mixture of chlorine dioxide, ozone and hypochlorite. This mixture is separated within the electrochemical cell by a membrane, or by exploiting density difference, and is then metered into the water requiring disinfection. The mixed oxidant gases are generated on demand and this is a great safety advantage, compared with having storage tanks of chlorine on site. The source for the d
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2.12 Summary

The hydrological cycle is a complex process involving evaporation, transpiration, condensation, air circulation, precipitation, infiltration, surface run-off and percolation. Aquifers are an important source of fresh water supplying about one-third of the UK's potable water demand. Most of the world's water is present as saline water in the oceans.


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3.3 The investigation

The investigation took three years to complete, although critical evidence emerged within weeks of the accident.

Some possibilities could be ruled out immediately. For example, there were rumours of supernatural forces at work that night, but very little solid evidence of the ‘Mothman’ emerged, either there or anywhere else. The Mothman was a demon purportedly haunting the bridge, which has supposedly appeared as a portent of similar disasters around the world. Such stories would ha
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References

Burroway, Janet (2003) Writing Fiction: a guide to narrative craft, 6th edition, Harlow: Longman.
Byatt, A.S. (2001) The Biographer's Tale, London: Vintage.
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