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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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Critical systems thinking

Critical systems thinking (CST) is regarded as a systems approach to research and intervention in complex situations. The approach developed from the concerns held initially by C. Wes Churchman and his student Werner Ulrich. Later, Mike Jackson and Bob Flood, who were then professors at the University of Hull in the UK (e.g. Jackson, 1991, 2000; Flood and Jackson, 1991) developed their interpretations of the earlier work. Jackson and Flood were concerned that existing systems methods, includi
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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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Given up already?

Figure 3 can be seen as a Dalmation (spotty) dog. The dog is facing away from the viewer, sniffing the ground with its black ear falling forward. Its head and dark collar are half way up the picure and about one third of the way across the frame. Its rump is near the right hand ed
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4.1 Something different

Perhaps it will not surprise you if I say you may experience this unit as rather different to any you may have previously encountered. Like any course of study, you are likely to find surprising and interesting material in it but there are three specific ways this unit may surprise and even challenge you. These three ways are concerned with:

  1. The nature of systems thinking and systems practice;

  2. A style of learning where you have to tak
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3.2 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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11.5.5 Chance

Another important source of inventions and scientific discoveries is chance, which is strongly associated with acts of insight. As well as the sort of painstaking work that either precedes an invention or goes into the steady improvement in performance, in the development of most inventions there's a moment when chance plays a part. Often people are looking for one thing but find another – perhaps working on one technology when they stumble on the principles behind another. The skill of the
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10.9 Opportunity offered by a new material, technology or manufacturing process

More often when new materials or technologies appear they are used to improve the performance of existing products. But in an increasing number of cases their appearance can make it possible to create new products.


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10.7.3 Opportunist

Some companies have an opportunist strategy and aim to identify new market opportunities, needs and demands. Rather than developing new products though, the inventiveness of such companies lies in finding new outlets for existing products. UK examples include Sock Shop and Tie Rack from the 1980s, and more recently the small companies that have made a profit selling a variety of ring tones for mobile phones.


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10 Part 2: 1 How invention starts

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9 Part 2: Invention

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8 Part 1: 7 Key points of Part 1

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6 Part 1: 5 Dead certs and dead ends

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5.15 Intellectual property and patents

At any stage of the innovation process, from invention to diffusion, a bright idea with market potential can be a target for unscrupulous copying. Or, as you've seen with simultaneous invention, people might be working on similar ideas in parallel and the origins of inventive ideas might be difficult to identify with precision. So it is sensible for inventors to establish their claim to a particular invention and to protect it against unauthorised exploitation by others.

There are diffe
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5.14 Compact fluorescents and new developments

In the case of the electric light there were a series of incremental product innovations (metal filaments, gas filled bulbs, frosted bulbs) as well as process innovations (some of which were mentioned above), which steadily improved performance and reduced price until, by the 1930s, the incandescent light was mature and diffused in many nations.

Then in the mid-1930s a new invention appeared that was to challenge the incandescent lamp – the fluorescent lamp. This was the culmination o
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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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5.10 Radical innovation and incremental innovation

The electric light might be said to be an example of a radical innovation – a new product, process or system resulting from a technological breakthrough, or an application of a technology having a far-reaching impact.

Radical innovations can have a widespread and sometimes revolutionary impact on our lives and are said by some to account for technological progress. However, as you saw with the example of the telephone, most radical innovations are actually an accumulation of mu
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5 Part 1: 4 Key concepts

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Conclusion

This free course provided an introduction to studying the arts and humanities. It took you through a series of exercises designed to develop your approach to study and learning at a distance and helped to improve your confidence as an independent learner.


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