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Stage 7: Implement changes

Finally, the agreed changes are implemented.

Like the hard systems approach, soft systems methodology is not seen as a ‘one pass’ procedure, but as a learning process. Iteration is a feature of the methodology's application. Learning is achieved in both approaches by the use of models, although soft systems has subsequently been enhanced to include a specific analysis of the culture and politics of the problem situation, as shown in Author(s): The Open University

Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • make an effective business case for a change to an operations activity or similar using appropriate written and/or oral forms of communication;

  • show the widespread utility of operations management principles at all levels across all types of organisation;

  • introduce a transformation model of operations management, with stakeholder value as the principle output;

  • provide models, concepts and
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2.1 Edison starts with cylinders

I had a little gramophone; I'd wind it round and round, and with a sharpish needle it made a cheerful sound.

Flanders, M. and Swann, D. (1977) ‘The Song of Reproduction’ from The Songs of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, London, Elm Tree Books and St George's Press, p. 99

In 1877 the young American inventor Thomas Alva Edison finally completed development of an invention capable of ca
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8.3 Summary

A fundamental musical and acoustical relationship is the octave. Pitches that are one or more octaves apart are heard musically as different instances of the same sound. A one-octave increase in pitch corresponds to a doubling of frequency.

For musical purposes, a pitch range of one octave is divided into discrete steps, known as scales, the individual pitches of which are given letter names (A, A

4.4 Where is the complexity and what is it?

When I first described some of my experiences of the child-support case study above, I attributed the properties of mess, complex, or hard-to-understand to the situation. So, are mess, complex, and hard-to-understand the same thing? If they are, why is the unit called Managing Complexity, rather than, say, Managing Messes? A glib answer is you might not have been attracted to it because of the everyday meaning of mess. Yet another answer is that complexity is a rich term whose everyday meanin
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3.6 Learning and effective action

I claim that learning is about effective action. It is distinguished when I, or another observer, recognise that I can perform what I was unable to perform before. Following Reyes and Zarama (1998), I am going to claim learning is an assessment made by an observer based on observed capacity for action. From this perspective, learning is not about ideas stored in our mind, but about action. So what makes an action effective? Reyes and Zarama (1998, p. 26) make the following claims:


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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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7.2.2 Trap 2: the impoverished rich picture

A distinguishing feature of rich pictures that turn out to be useful seems to be they are just what they say they are, rich. If I take usefulness as the criterion, the useful rich pictures are the ones bursting with interest and activity. They don't seem to tell a single story, there are lots of stories going on simultaneously. They reveal stories you didn't consciously build into them.

How is such a rich picture to be achieved?

Use everything you find in the situation. This means
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7.1 Introduction

The last activity was a demanding task. People I asked to do it during the writing of this unit, found it took a lot of concentration but it brought up lots of ideas, feelings and suggestions for action. Most of them were also concerned their rich picture might not be good enough. I imagine you will share some of these reactions. If you share any of these concerns, remember there are lots of ways of drawing a good rich picture and almost all rich pictures can be improved. Improving your rich
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18.2.3 Complexity

If an innovation is perceived as difficult to use it will diffuse more slowly than one that is easy to understand. For example users of early personal computers needed an understanding of a programming language in order to use their machines. For most potential PC users this made the innovation too complex to consider buying. Then a graphical user interface was developed and incorporated by Apple Computer into the Lisa computer in 1983 (Author(s): The Open University

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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4.4 What was innovative about the telephone?

The most obvious innovative aspect was that speech was being transmitted, so in principle anyone could use a telephone for communication. The use of the telegraph required skilled operatives. A message had to be translated into the dots and dashes of Morse code and transmitted using a single keypad making and breaking the connection in an electrical circuit. At the other end of the wire another Morse operator translated the received clicks into the words of the message. With the telephone no
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1.3.4 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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1.2.8 Working with other people's diagrams – reading diagrams

Reading diagrams is an equally useful skill to that of drawing diagrams. Not only does it help you understand what other people are trying to convey, it also helps you be critical of the diagrams you draw yourself. In some cases diagrams are used to make the text look pretty or appealing and do not add to the understanding of the reader (hopefully not the case with the diagrams here!). Even when they are used more effectively there is a need to be critical of what information is being conveye
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6.3 Distribution systems

The water from service reservoirs is distributed by a network of pipes of various sizes, laid beneath the streets, pavements and verges of our towns and cities. Any part of a distribution system can be isolated by valves at appropriate points. Figure 44 shows both a loop (as at A) and a spur or dead end (as at B) within a typical distribution layout. Looped or ring mains are always preferred to spurs or dead ends because when the rate of flow is restricted in a long spur, the water will remai
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5.14 Desalination

In many parts of the world, surface water or non-saline groundwater stocks are not adequate to satisfy the water demand. While one may immediately think of the Middle East as being one such area, it is less obvious that many islands (e.g. the Canary Isles, Madeira, the Channel Islands) also suffer the same problem. In such circumstances, people have been forced to consider the sea and brackish underground aquifers as water sources. To make these saline waters potable, the salt has first to be
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3.2 Dissolved oxygen

Organic and inorganic nutrients are the basic food supply essential for maintaining the plants and animals in natural watercourses. Equally essential to aquatic life is a supply of oxygen, needed for respiration. Oxygen dissolved in the water is also needed in the biodegradation of organic matter by aerobic (oxygen-consuming) bacteria. A measure of this oxygen demand can be obtained experimentally and is defined as the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). The BOD i
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1.5 Making the most of your reflections

The value of the work you do on all the activities in this unit will be strengthened if you can keep track of it and follow the development of your own ideas as they build up. It helps to keep your notes in one place, together with other material which catches your interest for its relevance to the subject, such as newspaper cuttings, journal articles and reports, and so on. The place where you keep them may be a box file, ring binder or anything else that suits your preference. Whatever you
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1.1 Effective course study

Research into how people study effectively suggests that it is important to pay attention not only to the content of what we are trying to learn but also to the process of our learning. Time spent on the process of how you are learning need not be a distraction from achieving your learning goals. It should support your efforts to achieve them.

However, thinking about the process of your own learning is not something which typically forms part of most formal courses of study. Most people
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3.4.6 Residual stress

One factor that can cause serious problems in any material is the presence of residual tensile stress. The problem often arises as a direct result of manufacturing, when hot material is shaped and then allowed to cool to ambient temperatures. For large castings like those needed to make the eye bars, such residual stress would be modified by the subsequent heat treatment to strengthen the steel, but had to be studied as part of the research effort into the catastrophic failure of the bridge.<
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