Getting Design Right: A Systems Approach

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We asked questions like, Where do we disturb the system? How could we get amplification of the disturbances to maximize impact? Values and principles are the absolute glue for an organization. What would those principles say about this objective, this relationship, or this outcome? They used to have big head offices.

Applying the Systems Approach

Their employees now sit in the local community groups that are receiving the grants. Every community that is funded or wants to be funded by this foundation now has a member, an employee of the foundation, embedded in that community almost as a servant to the community. And new systems emerge that have completely different properties, and different DNA. Almost like osmosis, or on another level, metamorphosis. They are transforming into new separate identities, not just mini versions of the macro organization, as they go into this new, much more fluid org design.

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I think of an example where a new CEO came in and did do some top-down change, but actually the most important and effective thing was to get the whole organization to design new values and principles. So the glue was something that was done right across the organization. That got rid of a whole layer — a regional layer — of structure. Structurally it went from center straight down to local without any regional hubs. But that was enough to disturb the system from a top-down perspective.

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After that, scaling is about doing the minimal amount of general change and then adding to that lots of permission to do local experiments and local pilots, and keeping the terms of reference as open and wide as possible. So, state all the local experiments and small local initiatives, but within a defined architecture of principles and purpose as glue. That all becomes the new boundaries of an organization. The speed is really picking up.

In a heavily networked environment such as our technocracy, you have to consider your whole ecosystem. Who can you align with?

2.2.2 Getting Design Right: Systems Engineering for the Non‐Engineer

If you think like a closed system, you miss out on emergence and visibility. It might come across as slightly naive that collaboration is the way to go forward — being stronger as part of the system rather than as a small subsystem. They were the biggest player on the block, and they still need a big brand, particularly because of the need to raise donations. In most African countries UNICEF goes in as the biggest player and tells the African country what its social policy should be in terms of child welfare and poverty, and what you end up with is a lot of wasted energy in many of those countries.

The government said, these are our outcomes and goals for what we want Rwanda child policy to look like. In this room over the next three days we want you to work out what your contribution will be to our vision.

Getting Design Right, A Systems Approach

So it turned this whole notion of the players in the room being competitors, to the players in the room being collaborators. Instead of driving and dictating the whole of social policy, UNICEF ended up stating where it could contribute best, and who it could work with on different parts of the policy, and where other people and organizations could take a lead.

What we ended up with was a really integrated, efficient use of resources in terms of contributing to the outcome of child social policy in Rwanda. Whereas if you focus much more on the systemic outcome and the potential contributions of a whole system of contributors to that outcome, you get very different results. When you do start working like that, you have a real problem of attribution.

It was causing a radical rethink of how you play and interact in a system, in a much more contribution-focused way rather than being a dominate player. Our biggest competitor was Microsoft.


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And that played out in the last few years. Microsoft has actually bought Nokia and completely transformed it.


  1. Fraz and Em - Piano Accompaniment.
  2. Benefits of a DoD Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA)?
  3. Violin Sonata No. 1 in G Minor.
  4. The VUCA world is here. The time is right to apply whole systems thinking to organizational strategy. I just think the conditions are right for leaders to be receptive to this sort of thinking. Toggle navigation Issue Why Boundaries Matter Stacy Hale. Philip Ball. Are We Facing a Crisis of Connectivity? D4E Editor. Leadership in the Network Age Mark de L.

    Choosing the right team model

    The Science of Organization Staff Writer. Work with the organization as a social organism Through my career, the systems I worked with were increasingly unpredictable. Identify a C-level advocate for experimentation, get permission to disturb systems I worked in an isolated part of Shell, the research and technology division, and we were given permission to experiment with pushing organizational boundaries.

    Inside Frequency Control

    A Complex Systems Approach to Change 1. Redefine the org as a set of social relationships 2. Focus less on concrete answers, and more on asking the right questions 3. After validating the design, the author presents an accessible treatment of resource-constrained scheduling as a computer puzzle. The final chapter covers the level-by-level decomposition of systems.

    In addition, the appendices offer useful design challenges for a bathroom-cleaning robot, a home health-care monitoring system, a night-vision system for automobiles, and an Internet-based meal delivery system. Using a design approach based on simple text-based tools and spreadsheet software, this book presents a formal process for discovering requirements and tackling design problems.

    It will help mature audiences in professional settings as well as students with limited design and project experience. Table B. A description of each deliverable can be found in the chapter referenced for that item. If you are conducting one