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1.3 Activities

In Activity 3A, you will be exploring your 'personal ecology' – the relationship between the physical places w
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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

3.1 Introduction

I wonder if you experience complexity in your daily life? For much of the time I struggle to keep my head above water as I try to understand and manage the complexity I experience as part of everyday life. I find social commentator and cartoonist Michael Leunig's depiction of a solitary figure looking through an ‘understandascope’ (Author(s): The Open University

2.3 Appreciating epistemological issues

Common sense tells me my experience and understanding of the world are limited. I am 173 cm in height. That limits my view of the world. It may not matter much that I cannot see what my house looks like from above but it does mean there will be things going on in the roof I may not notice until they impinge on areas that I can experience.

More significantly, there is a real limitation on understanding the experiences of other people. You might tell me about your experience but your desc
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2.2 Taking responsibility for your own learning

Not much of this unit conforms to the traditional pattern I mentioned earlier – the theory-example-exercise pattern. In particular, you will find you are expected to discover much of it for yourself. Why is this? This is a legitimate question and deserves a full answer. One year, a student at a residential summer school complained I had not taught him properly. I was, he told me, an expert and so why did I not demonstrate how to tackle the problem he was working on and pass my expertise on
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Keep on learning

Study another free course

There are more than 800 courses on OpenLearn for you to
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8.3.5 Alternative plasma chamber designs: MERIE and ICP

There are several variants of the parallel-plate RIE chamber. For example:

  • The ‘magnetically enhanced’ MERIE, where magnetic fields are used to slow the leakage of plasma to the chamber walls, reducing the operating voltage and improving the power efficiency.

  • ‘Plasma mode’ operation, where the RF voltage is applied to the chamber ceiling and the platen is grounded. This reduces the ion energy at the wafer from hundreds of volts t
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7.4.1 Spin-on

For a thick, quick, blanket coating of material, it is sometimes possible just to pour it over the surface! The technique is familiar from photolithography, where photoresist-polymer precursors are dissolved in a solvent. The wafer is spun at high speed (up to several thousand rpm) and a droplet is dripped onto its centre. This is thrown outwards, coating the surface instantly. The wafer is then baked to drive off the solvents and leave a solid film, perhaps 1 mm thick. This spin-on technique
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5.6 Casting defects

The first class of defect would have been inferred from examination of fractures in the cast-iron columns, where, for example, the wall thickness would be exposed for measurement. However, some of the casting defects he mentioned in his testimony – and which were to gain some notoriety both in the popular press accounts of the enquiry and in later accounts – are difficult to describe in detail because he did not specify where they were found in the debris, or how exactly they had contribu
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16.4 Managing for emergence and self-organisation

It might be useful to re-read Box 4 before starting this section. In this example, the terms ‘open’ and ‘closed’ were used on several occasions. You have already encountered the term ‘closed system’. You were told that human beings are closed systems in terms of inputs t
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6.3 Clarifying purposefulness

Research conducted by Ralph Stacey (1993) shows how business managers often behave in a way contrary to espoused policies and expectations. Rather than adhering to conventions of long-term planning, and accepted orthodoxies and procedures, they actually tend to make a succession of unrelated, adaptive responses to changing situations as the need arises. This is often, and rather disparagingly, labelled muddle-through or crisis management but can result in adaptive action and organisation.


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Systems dynamics

In the 1950s, Jay Forrester, a systems engineer at MIT, was commissioned by the US company Sprague Electric to study the extreme oscillations of their sales and establish a means to correct them. From previous experience, Forrester knew the essence of the problem stemmed from the oscillations present in situations that contain inertia effects, or delays and reverse effects, or feedback loops as basic structural characteristics.

Subsequently, in 1961, Forrester published his report on in
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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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9.2 Systems maps: searching for system

A simple definition of a system is an assembly of components interconnected as if they had a purpose. I am going to use the idea of purpose to look at the situation as I understand it.

Presented with the complexity of this situation it may be hard to know where to start. I have often found it helpful to start with the notion that somewhere in all this complexity there is, or was, some purpose. It is quite common in situations like this to find the mess has arisen because somewher
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8.1 Loose ends

Before moving into a discussion of the missing element of the rich picture, I want to direct your attention to all the thoughts and ideas I have encouraged you not to put into your rich picture. I imagine you might have collected quite a list of loose ends. The next activity will involve some of these.

Expect to take about half an hour to do the next activity.


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7.2.3 Trap 3: interpretation, structure, and analysis

If you deliberately impose an interpretation or analysis on your picture, you preclude the possibility of seeing other, potentially more interesting, features later. Remember the rich picture is a representation of the complexity. If you structure that complexity, you are no longer representing it as you experience it. You also lose the possibility of using the drawing process itself as a means of encountering the complexity in all its fullness.

The trap takes a number of forms.
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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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6 Part 2: 2 Immersing yourself in complexity

The first three activities in Figure 4 are to plan a strategy, then to immerse yourself in an example of complexity, and then represent that complexity through drawing a rich picture. I've selected a rich picture as the focus of this task because it is a means of bringing you into a
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20 Part 3: 4 Phases and waves of innovation

You can experience this free course as it was originally designed on OpenLearn, the home of free learning from The Open University: Author(s): The Open University

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