Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 500 501 502 503 504 505 506 507 508 509 510 511 512 513 514 515 516 517 518 519 520 521 522 523 524 525 526 527 528 529 530 531 532 533 534 535 536 537 538 539 540 541 542 543 544 545 546 10912 result(s) returned

1.4 Rights

Rights is a word that is used in different ways. Lawyers use it to indicate that a person is entitled to something, for example not to be dismissed unfairly from their job or to sue for damages if they have been sold faulty goods. Others sometimes talk of rights when they are making a moral claim, for example that they ought to be allowed to demonstrate or that a particular law is unjust or unfair. In this course we use rights primarily in the first sense, i.e. when we are talking about the a
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3.2 Migrations of life

As biologist and pioneer environmentalist Rachel Carson once wrote: ‘the stocking of the islands has been accomplished by the strangest migration in earth's history – a migration that began long before man appeared on earth and is still continuing’ (Carson, 1953, p. 66). Austronesian voyagers may have been the first people to venture far into open water, but many other species, as Carson suggests, have also found ways of negotiating passages across the ocean. Arriving at pockets of land
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2.5 Living systems and information flows

Understanding the role of information flows in feedback relationships is often confusing. It is relatively easy to visualise flows of energy and matter (ecosystem food webs, water flowing through a rainforest ecosystem, etc). But how does information ‘flow’ within feedback loops, and how does this affect systems?

The first point to make clear is that information is only meaningful to those systems that can perceive it. In other words, these systems need to have components th
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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • use the sign graph diagramming technique to develop and communicate a systemic understanding of complex situations

  • identify feedback relationships as fundamental controllers within systems and as points of intervention to enact change.


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1.1 Aim

This free course introduces you to the proposition that our mental models change through learning, and that the main
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7.2.3 Chemical composition

As outlined in Table 2, some deposition techniques are best suited to conducting materials, whereas others come into their own only for chemical compounds. In either case, chemical composition may be an important consideration. Impurities can interfere with the conduction properties of the material (notably in
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7.3 Ethics and safety

A practising engineer makes ethical decisions, with moral and physical implications of varying magnitudes, on a daily basis. Examples of ethical dilemmas are limitless, ranging from the engineer who takes home the odd pen, file or discarded paper 'for the children', to the engineer who signs off a project without checking the details and identifying a simple arithmetic error of magnitude. The implications of either may be negligible – such as where the cost is more than compensated in unpai
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Bridge girders

Figures 11 and 12, below, are photographs of the bridge taken from the south and north banks of the firth.

The girders of the bridge were supported on a total of 85 piers. The first 14 piers were made from brick and masonry, built up as a solid structure. The rest were fabricated from iron on masonry platforms, and by comparison, appeared rather insubstantial (Author(s): The Open University

3.3 Spider silk

The presence of regions of helical and sheet-like structures within a protein will affect its properties in different ways: a particularly striking example of this is provided by spider silk.

Imagine a polymer that forms fibres stronger, by mass, than steel and can be processed from water at ambient temperature and low pressure. As a consequence of its biological origin, it is extremely environmentally friendly and totally recyclable. It may sound like science fiction, but this i
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5.5 Experiences that motivated the development of systems methods

I have already introduced various systems methods. Behind all of these methods, there has generally been a champion, a promoter aided by countless co-workers, students, etc. To paraphrase the French sociologist of technology, Bruno Latour: we are never confronted with a systems method, but with a gamut of weaker and stronger associations; thus understanding what a method is, is the same task as understanding who the people are.

A method, like any social technology, depends on many peopl
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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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5.11 Sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation

As it's sometimes difficult to say whether a particular innovation is radical or incremental, a useful distinction made recently is between sustaining innovations and those that are disruptive. You'll read more about these ideas in Part 3.

Briefly, a sustaining innovation is a new or improved product that meets the needs of most current customers and serves to sustain leading firms in their market position. So in this context improvements to gas lighting, say, would be sustaining
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4.9 A consumer's experience of innovation

First phone in 1968

As I mentioned earlier my parents first acquired a domestic telephone in 1968 – more than 90 years after its invention.

Before then other ways of communicating seemed good enough. In the early 1950s in our street of around 100 houses only one family had a private telephone. My family used public call boxes occasionally but we didn't know many people with their own phone so not many calls needed to be made. When we needed to communicate with people at a
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4.1 An explanation

I will now elaborate on my answer from Exercise 1. I'm doing this because my internet search revealed more than I've written in the above answer, and to show that the invention of the telephone and its use by consumers is not as plain and simple as you may think. You were not expec
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References

Bignell, V. and Fortune, J. (1984) Understanding Systems Failures, Manchester, Manchester University Press.
Buzan, A. (1974) Use Your Head, London, BBC Publications.
Checkland, P. (1981) Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, London, Wiley.
Fisher, W. and Hudson, J. (1997) Using diagrams – a diagram , unpubli
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4.4 Diagrams for further analysis and quantitative model building

To gain further understanding of the connectivity in a situation, a multiple cause diagram can be converted into a sign graph by indicating whether the cause has a positive effect or a negative effect by adding the respective signs. Not all multiple cause diagrams lend themselves to this treatment as you need much greater knowledge of the situation to be able to be sure about the causal chains in a situation and the effects they are likely to have. Sign graphs are particularly useful
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4.3 Diagrams for connectivity

Relationship diagrams offer one way of putting more order into your understanding of a situation. Each element of a situation is named in an oval and lines between ovals indicate that there are relationships between the particular elements – but no more than this!

Systems maps are another way of developing one's understanding of a situation. Systems maps are essentially ‘structure’ diagrams. Each element or sub-system is contained in a circle or oval and a line is d
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4.2 Diagrams for understanding

Diagrams for understanding are best developed within the creativity phase, though sometimes you can go straight on to using a diagram more suitable to the connectivity phase. Most diagrams for understanding begin at the centre of the sheet of paper and work outwards. Buzan's (1974) spray diagram is built up from an initial idea with its branches; these branches have their own branches and so on until you reach the detail at the end of each twig. This technique is particularly useful fo
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3.1 Visualisers and verbalisers

A major point about diagrams is that some people naturally relate well to them and use them frequently, while others tend to prefer textual material. The former are sometimes referred to as visualisers and the latter as verbalisers. There is nothing wrong with either of these tendencies, but in subjects like systems thinking, social science or technology, where text and diagrams support each other, it is important to be comfortable with both. In addition, it is helpful to rememb
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11.1 The four pleasures

In consumerist societies, buying, using and displaying products has come to represent a certain type of pleasure. This pleasure principle has to be acknowledged in new product development and design. The designer Kenneth Grange has said that a guiding design principle for him is that a product should be ‘a pleasure to use’.

The pleasures of using a product are derived from the perceived benefits it offers to the user. Can we be more explicit in planning product benefits that are ple
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