Examining the Use of Systemic Approach for Adoption of Systems Thinking in Organizations
Received: 8 April 2017 / Revised: 21 June 2017 / Accepted: 22 June 2017 / Published: 28 June 2017
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The need for systems thinking (ST) in organizations is being increasingly felt, and sustained effort towards nurturing ST in organizations is still rare. Some companies that tried it earlier were not so successful. One of the reasons for this problem is that the
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The need for systems thinking (ST) in organizations is being increasingly felt, and sustained effort towards nurturing ST in organizations is still rare. Some companies that tried it earlier were not so successful. One of the reasons for this problem is that the implementation is done more with a reductionist mindset rather than a systemic mindset. It is no doubt challenging for managers so accustomed to reductionist thinking to cultivate the habits of systems thinking. This paper examines the use of a systemic approach for the successful adoption of systems thinking in organizations. The systemic approach needs a good system model for the systematic guidance of the implementation. The systemic model used in this study is a spirit, mind, and body model (SMB)—a holistic model taken from the spiritual lore which emphasizes the need for the alignment of spirit, mind, and body in order to achieve human excellence. We extended this model for use in an organizational context, and defined the systems of the spirit, systems of the mind, and systems of the body for an organization. Systems of the spirit are related to the leadership system, systems of the mind to the learning and change management systems, and systems of the body to the supporting systems such as tools and technology. We used such a model earlier to explain the suboptimal results in the implementation of capability maturity models (CMM) in software companies in India. In this paper, we used this model to explain the rather unsatisfactory results in the implementation of ST in companies like Ford and the satisfactory results in the implementation of “work out” at GE. “Work out” is a five-step process in which ST is a prominent step. We argued whether “work out” can be a good warm-up step that can prepare the organization for successful ST implementation. The study shows that the SMB framework is helpful in conducting an intelligent discourse about the implementation of ST-like initiatives in companies and has excellent potential for use as a guide for ST implementation in organizations.