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Practical Systems Thinking
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Table of Contents

Introduction. Acknowledgements. Part One: an introduction to using systems ideas. Systems ideas. Overview of objectives.. Introduction; What is a system? Structures and processes; System environment; Hierarchy and resolution; Prediction and control; Emerging properties; System ownership; Types of system; World view; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Developing Systems thinking. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Diagramming techniques: Organization charts. System maps. Spray diagrams. Influence and casual diagrams. Flow Charts. Decision sequence diagrams. Flow block diagrams; Event flow diagrams. Data flow diagrams. Preparatory description of the system: Awareness/consciousness. Commitments. Testing. Separation. Selection. Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Introduction to hard systems. Overview of the objectives. Introduction; Engineered systems; Natural systems; Abstract systems; Quantification; The nature of problems; Analyst/client relationship; Hard systems analysis; Tech-abs publications - a mini case study; Different systems methods; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Introduction to soft systems. Overview of objectives. Introduction; The nature of soft systems; Lucrative publications -a mini case study; The unstructured problem situation; Signs and symptoms of organizational distress. Beginning your analysis - the ''rich'' picture: Building up a rich picture. Sources of rich pictures. Hints on interviewing technique. The analyst''s role; Soft systems analysis; Issues and tasks; From analysis to systematic thinking; Relevant systems and root definitions; Conceptual models; Comparing What might be'' with What is; Discussing the agenda; Action for change; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Introduction to systems failures. Overview of objectives. Introduction; what is a failure?; Implications of systems failures; Comparative models; The formal system model; The control model: Characteristics of control. Engineering and other controls. Communication models; Human-human communication. Human-machine communication. Machine-made communication. Engineering reliability models: Measures of reliability. Outcomes of component failure. Technical failure categories. Fault trees. Cascade models. Common mode. Failure modes and effects analysis. Human factors models: Ergonomic models. Stress. Motivation. Organizational culture. Power relations. Analyzing systems failures; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Part Two: Three systems methods. Introduction to part two. Hard systems analysis. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Hard systems revisited: Approaches to problems. Complex problems. Need for systematic intervention. Step 1 - groundwork; Step 2 - awareness and understanding: Air traffic control - a mini case study. Step three - objectives and constraints: Information technology in further education - a mini case study. Step four - strategies. Step five - measured to assess achievement. Step 6 - modelling. Step 7 - Evaluation. Step Eight - making a choice. Step nine - implementation. Summary; Suggested answers to exercises Hard systems case studies. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Step one - data collection; Step Two - analysis: Problems in the health service - a mini case study. Step three - relevant systems and root definitions: Lucrative publications - a mini case study. Step four - conceptual modelling: Testing conceptual models. Step five - comparison to provide agenda for debate; Step six - discussing the agenda with actors; Step seven - action for change; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Soft systems case studies. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Northwich Training Materials Unit - a study of a project in crisis; Metropolitan Health Authority - a study of responses to NHS reforms; Summary. Analyzing systems failures. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Analysis of systems failures; Stage one - describing the failure situation: Air traffic control - a mini case study. Detailed systems description; Stage two - comparison with models; Stage three - what do comparisons mean?; Stage four - learning; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Systems failures case studies. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Daleside Development Group - a study of failure of system-built housing projects; Case study objectives; Data collection; Analysis The Littlebrook D hoist failure - a study of safety management failure; Analysis; Potential continuation of case studies; Selected references; Summary. How to pick and mix. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Assessing your tasks; Selecting a method; Switching methods; Summary. Developing your systems skills. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Systems thinking in your work; Practical books; Authoritative texts; Journals and periodicals; Learned bodies; Courses; Conferences and seminars. Explanation of terms. Alphabetical index.

About the Author

Dr Alan E. Waring is Head of Risk Management Consulting with Aqumen Services Ltd. and has over 20 years experience in risk management across industry in the UK, Europe, Middle East and elsewhere. He has written several books on systems thinking and risk issues including Practical Systems Thinking and Safety Management Systems, International Thomson Business Press, 1996.

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Introduction. Acknowledgements. Part One: an introduction to using systems ideas. Systems ideas. Overview of objectives. Introduction; What is a system? Structures and processes; System environment; Hierarchy and resolution; Prediction and control; Emerging properties; System ownership; Types of system; World view; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Developing Systems thinking. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Diagramming techniques: Organization charts. System maps. Spray diagrams. Influence and casual diagrams. Flow Charts. Decision sequence diagrams. Flow block diagrams; Event flow diagrams. Data flow diagrams. Preparatory description of the system: Awareness/consciousness. Commitments. Testing. Separation. Selection. Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Introduction to hard systems. Overview of the objectives. Introduction; Engineered systems; Natural systems; Abstract systems; Quantification; The nature of problems; Analyst/client relationship; Hard systems analysis; Tech-abs publications - a mini case study; Different systems methods; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Introduction to soft systems. Overview of objectives. Introduction; The nature of soft systems; Lucrative publications -a mini case study; The unstructured problem situation; Signs and symptoms of organizational distress. Beginning your analysis - the 'rich' picture: Building up a rich picture. Sources of rich pictures. Hints on interviewing technique. The analyst's role; Soft systems analysis; Issues and tasks; From analysis to systematic thinking; Relevant systems and root definitions; Conceptual models; Comparing What might be' with What is; Discussing the agenda; Action for change; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Introduction to systems failures. Overview of objectives. Introduction; what is a failure?; Implications of systems failures; Comparative models; The formal system model; The control model: Characteristics of control. Engineering and other controls. Communication models; Human-human communication. Human-machine communication. Machine-made communication. Engineering reliability models: Measures of reliability. Outcomes of component failure. Technical failure categories. Fault trees. Cascade models. Common mode. Failure modes and effects analysis. Human factors models: Ergonomic models. Stress. Motivation. Organizational culture. Power relations. Analyzing systems failures; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Part Two: Three systems methods. Introduction to part two. Hard systems analysis. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Hard systems revisited: Approaches to problems. Complex problems. Need for systematic intervention. Step 1 - groundwork; Step 2 - awareness and understanding: Air traffic control - a mini case study. Step three - objectives and constraints: Information technology in further education - a mini case study. Step four - strategies. Step five - measured to assess achievement. Step 6 - modelling. Step 7 - Evaluation. Step Eight - making a choice. Step nine - implementation. Summary; Suggested answers to exercises Hard systems case studies. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Step one - data collection; Step Two - analysis: Problems in the health service - a mini case study. Step three - relevant systems and root definitions: Lucrative publications - a mini case study. Step four - conceptual modelling: Testing conceptual models. Step five - comparison to provide agenda for debate; Step six - discussing the agenda with actors; Step seven - action for change; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Soft systems case studies. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Northwich Training Materials Unit - a study of a project in crisis; Metropolitan Health Authority - a study of responses to NHS reforms; Summary. Analyzing systems failures. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Analysis of systems failures; Stage one - describing the failure situation: Air traffic control - a mini case study. Detailed systems description; Stage two - comparison with models; Stage three - what do comparisons mean?; Stage four - learning; Summary; Suggested answers to exercises. Systems failures case studies. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Daleside Development Group - a study of failure of system-built housing projects; Case study objectives; Data collection; Analysis The Littlebrook D hoist failure - a study of safety management failure; Analysis; Potential continuation of case studies; Selected references; Summary. How to pick and mix. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Assessing your tasks; Selecting a method; Switching methods; Summary. Developing your systems skills. Overview of objectives. Introduction; Systems thinking in your work; Practical books; Authoritative texts; Journals and periodicals; Learned bodies; Courses; Conferences and seminars. Explanation of terms. Alphabetical index.

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