Figure 18 shows part of a critical path for converting surplus retail space into a warehouse. Each task is represented by an arrow; the length of an arrow does not relate to the duration of the task. The junctions (called nodes) where arrows meet would normally be num
Author(s): The Open University

Compendium is a knowledge map software tool for visual thinking. It can be used for personal reflection as you study or work on a problem, and you can share your maps with others â€“ your summary of a topic or a learning path through, say, an OpenLearn course.

Follow the link to find out more about
Author(s): The Open University

There are times when management problems seem too complicated and â€˜messyâ€™ to analyse. A technique, the fishbone diagram, can be used by both individuals and groups to help to clarify the causes of a difficult problem and capture its complexity. The diagram will help provide a comprehensive and balanced picture and show the relative importance and interrelationships between different parts of the problem.

Author(s): The Open University

Mapping a system is like mapping a town. First we define the boundary and draw it on paper. The boundary separates those places inside the town from those outside. We do the same with the system. We show the system boundary with rounded corners to emphasise the imprecise nature of the boundary that separates those things that are interacting inside the system from those outside in the environment that have an effect on it.

We become selective when we draw a map. We consider the purpose
Author(s): The Open University

Systems thinking will enable you to analyse complex issues in an illuminating way. It takes a whole (or holistic) view of a situation.

When you think of a system, bear in mind the following five ideas:

1. Everything in a system is connected The elements of a system are interconnected. The members of a department or a voluntary group constitute a system. There are connections between the members. A system can comprise people, material objects,
Author(s): The Open University

1. The diagram is a useful expositional or presentational device. When you are presenting an analysis or proposal, the diagram will enable you to describe (and distinguish between) the reasons for a change. It will enable you to do the same for the reasons why a change may be resisted.

2. The diagram will be an explicit prompt for exploring the restraining forces. The more a manager finds out about these, and the earlier, the better placed the manag
Author(s): The Open University

When a line cuts an axis, the line is said â€˜to intercept the axis atâ€™ [the particular point]. In this example, the line cuts the vertical (y) axis at Â£10, so â€˜the line intercepts the y axis at Â£10â€™. It can also be said that â€˜the intercept with the y axis is Â£10â€™.

Author(s): The Open University

Projects vary in how they are eventually financed. They can be purely commercial projects from which the products are sold at market prices, and so eventually the revenues they generate are expected to cover the costs and provide an operating profit. In the meantime, development costs and working capital have to be financed from share and loan capital raised by the organisation, the cost of which will be met from the profit the project makes. At the other extreme there are projects, in both f
Author(s): The Open University

When the objectives are identified, trying to ensure that each objective is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound) is good practice or at least to have considered the extent to which these conditions could be met. As in all planning, this process is continuous and as new information becomes available and as the project progresses, changes will need to be made to aspects of the objectives and to the sequences of tasks that contribut
Author(s): The Open University

In so far as better corporate governance has the objective of enhancing shareholder control, it should follow that companies with better corporate governance will attract investors and will reduce their cost of capital. A global investor opinion survey carried out by McKinsey & Company (2002) gives some evidence that good governance is linked to investment decisions. The survey found that:

• investors state that they still put corporate governance on a p
Author(s): The Open University

As we have discussed before, the creation of corporate regulation is often linked to perceived failures of corporations and their management to behave in the way society expect them to. Corporate governance is not an exception to this trend, and, as with accounting, different countries may well experience difficulties at different times. For example, the development of British codes of best practice, which began with the Cadbury Committee, can be related to governance scandals such as Polly P
Author(s): The Open University

In this section we are going to review the different needs that drive the creation of corporate governance frameworks. The contingent model of regulation applies to financial reporting: the idea that equilibrium in regulation exists, but is broken by some intrusive event, often a financial scandal. This leads to a search for a revision of the rules, and a new equilibrium is worked out. This is very much a pattern that drives change in corporate governance.

Author(s): The Open University

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Author(s): The Open University

After studying this course, you should be able to:

• understand the need for organisations to acknowledge the influence of their environments

• understand the impact organisations have on those environments.

Author(s): The Open University

The evaluation report will often contain recommendations for further actions and these may lead to new project ideas. Recommendations may relate to processes and procedures within the organisation. Project evaluation and debriefing can be a learning experience for the organisation as a whole, as well as for individuals. For example, British Petroleum gathers the lessons learnt from post-project appraisals in a series of booklets that are then used as guidance for writing project proposals. In
Author(s): The Open University

In many projects it can be difficult to make comparisons with anything similar. However, there may be quality standards that can be used for one of more of the outcomes, perhaps alongside different targets for time-scales and resource use. Benchmarks are another possible source of comparative data; they have been established for many processes, and data are available from industry, sector and professional support bodies.

Author(s): The Open University

At this stage the project activities are monitored to determine how their timing, quality and cost match the plan. The results of this monitoring are reviewed to see whether the plan needs to be modified. New environmental conditions may indicate the need to change the organisation's strategic direction. It might be necessary in that case to re-align the project, so that the outcomes relate to the new direction. In some cases it may be necessary to abort the project, if it is no longer approp
Author(s): The Open University

A project is often shaped through discussion among those developing the vision and direction of the project. They may agree in general terms about what is to be achieved, but have to make a number of choices before deciding how to proceed. It may be important to allow time for different views to be heard and considered, and for attitudes to change and â€“ hopefully â€“ converge.

Author(s): The Open University

Once the initial discussions about the purpose and feasibility of the project have confirmed that the project is worth carrying out, it is essential to establish the basic agreement as a document. The document will provide the reference point for all future work on the project and will be the basis for all judgements about whether the project is finally successful or not. This document is sometimes called the terms of reference, but usually incorporates some additional information in the form
Author(s): The Open University

The task breakdown technique is a very logical approach to identifying the tasks involved in a project. Some people may find it suits them better than using mind maps; other people may find the techniques complement each other.

To do a task breakdown chart, first draw a box at the top of a page with the project title inside it. Then mentally identify the main elements that go to make up the project as shown below.

Author(s): The Open University