Systems Thinking for Busy Managers


The business world today is in constant and rapid change. As a result, the success and viability of any company is dependent on the ability of its managers to learn and to respond to the changing environment. In the words of Revan, ‘for an organisation to remain viable the rate of learning internally must be equal to or greater than the rate of change in its context’. Revan alludes to the well concept of the need for requisite variety within organisations.

Managers who are often skilled in technical fields find themselves quite challenged by the ever increasing rate of complexity and demands when dealing with the softer people issues. Unfortunately though, classical management approaches have tended to be rather linear and do not provide the skills to manage complexity that arises when dealing with the unpredictable human factor. Yet it is this human factor that often determines the success and viability of companies. Managing effectively in an ever changing context requires a different way of thinking. It is here that insights from the field of systems thinking provide a helpful angle to managers, enabling them not only to manage the obvious rational processes but importantly to understand the emotive elements that accompany change. Systems thinking also equips managers with the ability to see the interconnected nature of society and organisations and to factor this in their business efforts. It is vital to equip the managers with the skills to think systemically as well as with some tools to enable them better understand and manage the complex situations that confront them in a way that leads to higher organisational performance.

It is in response to the above need that we have developed a very practical three day course on Systems Thinking for Busy Managers specifically aimed at top and middle managers. The three days can be structured to the needs and timelines of an organization. For example, creating space between days 2 and 3 enables managers to implement what they have learnt in the course and to report back and reflect on their experiences on the third day.

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