2.1 The nature of systems thinking and systems practice

There are no simple definitions for either systems thinking or systems practice. It's difficult to find definitions that capture all the perspectives that the ideas carry for people who think of themselves as systems thinkers and systems practitioners. Most systems practitioners seem to experience the same kind of difficulty in explaining what they do or what it means to be systemic in their thinking. Through experience I've developed some criteria by which I characterize systems thinking, bu
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1.1.1 Learning by experience

It's a familiar idea but it implies two activities: learning and experiencing. Both activities need to happen if I am to say that learning from experience has happened. Experiencing seems to have two components. The first is the quality of attention that allows me to notice the experience and its components. The second is memory. Calling experience to mind allows me to examine the experience and to think about it in ways that were not possible at the time. Learning is what I take away from th
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1.1 Thinking about expectations

Anticipations and preconceptions are an important determinant of how people learn, so before you read on, I would like you to record some of what you are experiencing now as you begin the unit.

It's important to get these impressions noted down now, because new ideas and new impressions will quickly overlay the experience. What you are experiencing now will be re-interpreted as new understandings emerge. You are also likely to form some judgements about your expectations. So before any
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Introduction

When you meet with a situation you experience as complex you need to think about yourself in relation to the process of formulating a system of interest. Only with this awareness, can you increase your range of purposeful actions in the situation which are ethically defensible. To do so is the hallmark of systemic thinking and practice compared to systematic thinking and practice. The metaphor of the systems practitioner as a juggler of four balls is introduced as a device to explore skill de
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5.13 The final Act

In Act 3, Dan and Ned are back in Ned's flat and Ned is showing extreme signs of neurosis and paranoia. Dan can no longer bear Ned's rather dark and erratic behaviour, and he grabs the conversation by suddenly pouring out all the overwhelmingly negative aspects of his life as a dentist, father and lover. Some people might say that ethics is about how to live a ‘good’ life and, clearly, Dan needs a change. He recognises he is not leading a ‘good’ life. He knows all the things that are
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5.12 Interests

There is quite a lot to be said about the play, but in this unit I need to be selective. In the conversations that take place, one of the things that happens is that all sorts of interests unfold. There is a catalogue of benefits that could each potentially accrue to a long list of individuals and groups. We have the government that could gain benefits through ownership which would allow it to develop the device, understand threats, prevent development, protect the indigenous industry and ret
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5.11 Promises

Having tried various devices to persuade Ned, Ros resorts to her other ‘technical’ approach. She reminds him of his employment contract, which requires him to do his best to exploit his work. A contract, of course, is a form of promise you endorse when you sign it. Signing the contract is performative, it changes the relationships. In this case, it clearly is a promise, it is a promise to do his ‘best’, and that is clearly an ethical matter. This move obviously has a strong influence
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5.10 Conscience

Ned responds with the use of another ethical concept. He feels what he is proposing is ‘right’, regardless of any relationships at play, and he refers to his ‘conscience’. This is perhaps a way of saying, firstly, that he feels very strongly that he is right and, secondly, that any speculation about signing away the IP gives him a great deal of discomfort. This appeal to a ‘conscience’ is an interesting rhetorical move because it neither requires nor provides any reasoned justific
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5.9 Ethical reasoning

Now Ned's got three things. He's got the money that is presumably ‘good’. He's got his defence policy, which he thinks is ‘good’. Ros then introduces the well-being of the community. They are all ‘goods’ but each pulls in a different direction. Any judgement that Ned makes has to be based on an aggregation of these things. But, of course, these are quite different kinds of things, they are incommensurate, so adding up these things is not a straightforward proposition. Ros is hopin
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5.8 Rights

At the beginning of Act 2, Ned is quite explicit about not wanting to bargain over money. It is very clear he is bargaining over his right to control who uses what he sees as his technology, and his rights, he believes, will enable him to keep his weapon out of the hands of administrations that he does not really trust. So, at the centre of all this are the rights that appear to provide the means for Ned to control the distribution of devices embodying his idea, and that will allow him to pre
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5.7 The story so far

In Act 1 of Landscape with Weapon, Dan, the dentist, has been disturbed by the defence project that his brother is working on. Dan, however, is a fairly mercenary individual, so he feels that having had the idea, Ned should aim for a good return. The company is keen to exploit Ned's work, but Ned has resisted handing over the IP for his invention because he wants to control who gets access to the weapon system that his work has enabled.

In this Act Ned says weapons are empirical,
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5.6 Identification

We end Act 1 with a clear understanding that it is actually too late for Ned to pull out, even if he wanted to: the weapon has been designed. If he were concerned about the military technology, he should really have worried about that before he took on the job. But he does not, at the end of Act 1, want to pull out. He clearly wants to see the project through. Materialising this idea is what he lives for, and he says this is at the cutting edge, this is where technology is. These ideas are go
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5.5 Rhetorical devices

I talked a bit about Ned's motivations, but I am not quite sure about what he is trying to do to be persuasive. He has this interest in aesthetics, but in giving a detailed explanation of a military technology he is working on, he, from time to time, uses an analogy. One analogy he uses is the ‘flocking of starlings’, which illustrates rather the principle of operation of the technology and suggests that it is a kind of an existence proof. It implies this technology might actually work. B
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2.4 Relationships and conduct

Socratic dialogues tend to involve Socrates and just one significant interlocutor at a time. In practice, we have networks of relationships, all of which we value in different ways and which are sustained by conversations that extend over different and long sequences of encounters. Crucially, the actions we take and the conversations we have change those relationships and the value we attribute to them. Therefore, ‘relationships’ constitute yet another thing that we need to look at, somet
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2.3 Style and rhetoric

In the dialogues in Section 2.2, Plato, the author, is trying to point out convincingly the features of a ‘virtuous’ life and, therefore, offers templates for presenting a case with an ethical content.

In looking at the style of the dialogues, most of Protagoras is in the form of a narrative similar to something you might find in a novel, as I suggested earlier. Meno is much more like a play script, but it is noticeable that Meno (the character) mostly agrees with what
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Acknowledgements

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Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material within this product.

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6.4 Benefits

  • 7. What are the financial benefits of the proposed change?

  • 8. What are the short-term operational benefits e.g. improvements to the key operations performance objectives?

  • 9. What are the strategic benefits, if any, of the
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4.1 Background to Vue

This section discusses one of four video case studies used in the T883 course to illustrate some basic concepts of operations management covered by the course.

Vue Entertainment is a relatively young organisation, formed in 2003 with the acquisition of 36 cinemas from the Warner Village chain. At the time of writing (October 2007) it currently operates 579 screens and 130,585 seats over 59 cinemas. It sees its approach as firmly based upon its desire to consistently provide ‘the best
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8.4 The Enlightenment and modernity

In its desire to replace outmoded, irrational ways of thinking by the rational, the sensible and the progressive, the Enlightenment was self-consciously modern. A manifestly scientific age and the visible advancement of knowledge in the eighteenth century required, it was felt, an overhaul – or at least a careful critical and radical scrutiny – of culture, society and their institutions. This was the implicit message of the Encyclopédie. Its contributors were convinced that they w
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Learning outcomes

By the end of your study of this unit, you should have:

  • an understanding of the common techniques underlying free verse and traditional forms of poetry;

  • begun to identify aspects of your own experience and imagination that you can use when writing poems;

  • learnt the basic terminology and practical elements of poetry.


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