COMMGMT 2504NA - Systems Thinking for a Complex World II

Ngee Ann Academy - Trimester 2 - 2014

Complexity characterises the world and all human endeavours today. All problems, whether technical, social, economic, natural, cultural or political are embedded in a complex web of dynamically linked components and processes that are continuously influenced by short-term shocks and long-term stresses such as globalisation, climate change, economic liberalisation and urbanisation. This generic course equips students from all disciplines with essential knowledge and skills through the introduction of systems thinking concepts, theories, and cutting edge tools for understanding and effectively managing complexity. It provides a basis for moving from traditional linear thinking to interconnected thinking that is, to determine systemic interventions (actions, strategies, policies) that address the root causes of issues rather than treating the symptoms. Cutting edge systems tools and games are used to gain insight into how the components of complex systems are multi-dimensional and interconnected, how a particular decision can lead to intended as well as unintended consequences and how negative outcomes could be mitigated in a systemic way. Student group projects provide unique multi-disciplinary learning opportunities to gain firsthand experiences with new ways of thinking about their own discipline interests and how to integrate diverse mental models and disciplines in finding solutions to deal with complex issues.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMMGMT 2504NA
    Course Systems Thinking for a Complex World II
    Coordinating Unit Business School
    Term Trimester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s Ngee Ann Academy
    Units 3
    Course Description Complexity characterises the world and all human endeavours today. All problems, whether technical, social, economic, natural, cultural or political are embedded in a complex web of dynamically linked components and processes that are continuously influenced by short-term shocks and long-term stresses such as globalisation, climate change, economic liberalisation and urbanisation.

    This generic course equips students from all disciplines with essential knowledge and skills through the introduction of systems thinking concepts, theories, and cutting edge tools for understanding and effectively managing complexity. It provides a basis for moving from traditional linear thinking to interconnected thinking that is, to determine systemic interventions (actions, strategies, policies) that address the root causes of issues rather than treating the symptoms.

    Cutting edge systems tools and games are used to gain insight into how the components of complex systems are multi-dimensional and interconnected, how a particular decision can lead to intended as well as unintended consequences and how negative outcomes could be mitigated in a systemic way. Student group projects provide unique multi-disciplinary learning opportunities to gain firsthand experiences with new ways of thinking about their own discipline interests and how to integrate diverse mental models and disciplines in finding solutions to deal with complex issues.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Ockie Bosch

    Name: Professor Ockie Bosch
    Location: Level 9, Business School, Faculty of the Professions, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005 Australia
    Email: ockie.bosch@adelaide.edu.au
    Phone: +61(0)8 8313 6460
    Homepage: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/ockie.bosch

    Name: Dr Nam Nguyen
    Location: Level 9, Business School, Faculty of the Professions, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005 Australia
    Email: nam.nguyen@adelaide.edu.au
    Phone: +61(0)8 8313 1491
    Homepage: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/nam.nguyen
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.


    Intensive 1 Intensive 2 Daily Schedule
    3-Jul
    4-Jul
    5-Jul
    7-Jul
    8-Jul
    14-Aug
    15-Aug
    16-Aug
    18-Aug
    19-Aug
    Classes scheduled from 10.00 am – 4.00pm
    unless otherwise stated

    Please refer to Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre Schedule for further information.

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from the Course Planner at https://access.adelaide.edu.au/courses/search.asp

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    After successfully completing this course students should be able to:
    1. Understand that issues facing the world are complex and multi-dimensional, straddle many different factors and involve diverse multi-stakeholder systems;
    2. Understand the context in which the problems arise (culture, political systems, values) and how disciplines or areas of interest fit into the whole;
    3. Understand how different disciplines are interconnected and interdependent;
    4. Obtain skills to address the underlying root causes rather than the symptoms of a problem;
    5. Identify positive and negative feedback across components of a system;
    6. Obtain skills to address problems that appear to be intractable;
    7. Understand how the changing nature of the world impacts upon the way in which people and organisations make decisions;
    8. Identify key leverage points for systemic interventions and to interpret their managerial implications in diverse application areas; and
    9. Apply, through a real life project, concepts of systems thinking and some cutting edge tools in understanding and effectively managing complex problems in various areas and contexts.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 6
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2, 6
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 4, 5 ,6 ,8, 9
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 2, 9
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 9
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 2, 4, 6
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 6, 8
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 2, 3
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    No text book is required for this course.
    Recommended Resources
    The following readings will add depth to your studies. The key articles will be provided before classes and other articles can be downloaded for free through the university library. Further readings that are relevant to each lecture/session will also be posted on MyUni in due course.
    1. The first paper providing a comprehensive description of the innovative and unique systems based approach, both locally – Evolutionary Learning Laboratory (ELLab) – and globally – Global Evolutionary Learning Laboratory (GELL), and its diverse applications (Bosch, Nguyen et al. 2013).
    2. The first paper providing a description of the design and use of the innovative concept of Learning Laboratories (LLab), used by UNESCO to promote the LLab concept as best practice in its Biosphere Reserve program (Nguyen, Bosch et al. 2011).
    3. Best paper award winner for the track: [Corporate] Social Responsibility - An approach to overcome the economic crisis (Bosch, Nguyen et al. 2013).
    4. The first paper providing the identification of leverage points and systemic intervention strategies that are required for the sustainable development of a UNESCO biosphere reserve (Nguyen and Bosch 2013).
    5. This is one of the first articles in this area that brought systems thinking to mainstream’s attention (Nguyen, Graham et al. 2012).
    6. This is one of the invited keynote papers from the Business Systems Laboratory 2nd International Symposium on ‘Systems Thinking for a Sustainable Economy: Advancements in Economic and Managerial Theory and Practice’ in Rome (Bosch, Nguyen et al. 2014)
    7. These two books give you a good understanding of systems thinking, with many practical examples (Sherwood 2002; Maani and Cavana 2007).
    8. Peter Senge’s book (Senge 2006): “The prevailing system of management has destroyed our people … The job of management in education, industry, and government should be the optimization of a system… Peter Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline, from which I have learned much, is a good place to begin” (Dr. W.Edwards Deming, Pioneer of the Total Quality Management Movement).
    9. An excellent paper describing leverage points and systemic intervention (Meadows 1999).
    10. An interesting paper to help you understand more about systems thinking (Meadows 2002).
    11. Application of systems thinking in natural resource management (Bosch, King et al. 2007).
    12. Application of systems thinking in sustainable development (Nguyen, Bosch et al. 2009; Smith 2011).
    13. Application of systems thinking in business (Sterman 2000; Walker, Stanton et al. 2009; Bashiri and Tabrizi 2010)
    14. Application of systems thinking in health (Cavana, Davies et al. 1999; Newell 2003; Lee 2009).
    15. Application of systems thinking in commodity systems (Sawin, Hamilton et al. 2003).
    16. Application of systems thinking in agricultural production systems (Wilson 2004).
    17. Application of systems thinking in environmental conflict management (Elias 2008).
    18. Application of systems thinking in education (Galbraith 1999; Hung 2008).
    19. Application of systems thinking in consensus building (Maani and Maharraj 2004).
    20. Application of systems thinking in human resource management (Quatro, Waldman et al. 2007).
    21. Application of systems thinking in organisational learning (Galanakis 2006)
    22. Application of systems thinking in philosophy, biology, and social theory and management (Mingers 2006).
    23. Application of systems thinking in rural development and food security (Keegan and Nguyen 2011).
    Bibliography
    Bashiri, M. and M. M. Tabrizi (2010). "Supply chain design: A holistic approach." Expert Systems with Applications 37(1): 688-693.
    Bosch, O. J. H., C. A. King, J. L. Herbohn, I. W. Russell and C. S. Smith (2007). "Getting the big picture in natural resource management - systems thinking as 'method' for scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders." Systems Research and Behavioral Science 24(2): 217-232.
    Bosch, O. J. H., N. C. Nguyen and T. M. Ha (2014). "Can Advancements in Economic and Managerial Practice be achieved without Systems Thinking Education as the Foundation?" Business Systems Review 3(2): In Press: Special Issue - Invited Plenary Paper of the Business Systems Laboratory 2nd International Symposium: Systems Thinking for a Sustainable Economy.
    Bosch, O. J. H., N. C. Nguyen, T. Maeno and T. Yasui (2013). "Managing Complex Issues through Evolutionary Learning Laboratories." Systems Research and Behavioral Science 30(2): 116-135.
    Bosch, O. J. H., N. C. Nguyen and D. Sun (2013). "Addressing the critical need for a "new way of thinking" in dealing with complex issues facing our societies (Best Paper Award)." Business Systems Review 2(2): 48-70 (Special Issue - Selected papers of the first B.S.Lab International Symposium).
    Cavana, R. Y., P. K. Davies, R. M. Robson and K. J. Wilson (1999). "Drivers of quality in health services: different worldviews of clinicians and policy managers revealed." System Dynamics Review 15(3): 331-340.
    Elias, A. A. (2008). "Towards a shared systems model of stakeholders in environmental conflict." International Transactions in Operational Research 15(2): 239-253.
    Galanakis, K. (2006). "Innovation process. Make sense using systems thinking." Technovation 26(11): 1222-1232.
    Galbraith, P. L. (1999). "Systems thinking: a missing component in higher educational planning." Higher Education Policy 2(2): 141-157.
    Hung, W. (2008). "Enhancing systems-thinking skills with modelling." British Journal of Educational Technology 39(6): 1099-1120.
    Keegan, M. and N. C. Nguyen (2011). "Systems Thinking, Rural Development and Food Security: Key Leverage Points for Australia’s Regional Development and Population Policy." Migration Australia (launch issue) 1(1): 50-64.
    Lee, A. (2009). "Health-promoting schools: evidence for a holistic approach to promoting health and improving health literacy." Appl Health Econ Health Policy 7(1): 11-17.
    Maani, K. and V. Maharraj (2004). "Links between systems thinking and complex decision-making." System Dynamics Review 20(1): 21-48.
    Maani, K. E. and R. Y. Cavana (2007). Systems thinking, system dynamics: Managing change and complexity. Auckland, NZ, Prentice Hall.
    Meadows, D. (1999). Leverage points: Place to intervene in a System. Hartland, VT, USA, The Sustainability Institute.
    Meadows, D. (2002). "Dancing with systems." The Systems Thinker 13(2).
    Mingers, J. C. (2006). Realising Systems Thinking: Knowledge and Action in Management Science. New York, USA, Springer.
    Newell, D. (2003). "Concepts in the study of complexity and their possible relation to chiropractic health care: a scientific rationale for a holistic approach." Clinical Chiropractic 6(1): 15-33.
    Nguyen, N. C. and O. J. H. Bosch (2013). "A Systems Thinking Approach to identify Leverage Points for Sustainability: A Case Study in the Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam." Systems Research and Behavioral Science 30(2): 104-115.
    Nguyen, N. C., O. J. H. Bosch and K. E. Maani (2009). The importance of systems thinking and practice for creating biosphere reserves as "learning laboratories for sustainable development". Proceedings of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2009 Conference, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
    Nguyen, N. C., O. J. H. Bosch and K. E. Maani (2011). "Creating 'learning laboratories' for sustainable development in biospheres: A systems thinking approach." Systems Research and Behavioral Science 28(1): 51-62.
    Nguyen, N. C., D. Graham, H. Ross, K. Maani and O. J. H. Bosch (2012). "Educating Systems Thinking for Sustainability: Experience with a Developing Country." Systems Research and Behavioral Science 39(1): 14-29.
    Quatro, S. A., D. A. Waldman and B. M. Galvin (2007). "Developing holistic leaders: Four domains for leadership development and practice." Human Resource Management Review 17(4): 427-441.
    Sawin, B., H. Hamilton and A. Jones (2003). Commodity system challenges: Moving sustainability into the mainstream of natural resource economies. Hartland, USA, Sustainability Institute.
    Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization (revised and updated). New York, USA, Random House, Inc.
    Sherwood, D. (2002). Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager's Guide to applying Systems Thinking. London, UK, Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
    Smith, T. (2011). "Using critical systems thinking to foster an integrated approach to sustainability: A proposal for development practitioners." Environment, Development and Sustainability 13(1): 1-17.
    Sterman, J. D. (2000). Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World. Boston, USA, Irwin McGraw-Hill.
    Walker, G. H., N. A. Stanton, D. P. Jenkins and P. M. Salmon (2009). "From telephones to iPhones: Applying systems thinking to networked, interoperable products." Applied Ergonomics 40(2): 206-215.
    Wilson, J. (2004). Changing agriculture: An introduction to Systems thinking. QLD, Australia, Print on Demand Centre, University of Queensland Bookshop.
    Online Learning
    MyUni is the University of Adelaide’s online learning environment. It is used to support traditional face-to-face lectures, tutorials and workshops at the University. MyUni provides access to various features including announcements, course materials, discussion boards and assessments for each course of study (see: https://myuni.adelaide.edu.au ).
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is offered in blended learning mode with face-to-face component offered as intensives.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    As a guide, a 3 unit course comprises a total of 120 hours work (this includes face-to-face contact, any online components, and self directed study).
    Learning Activities Summary
    A summary of the learning activities is provided in the table below.
    Module Learning Activities Note
    1 Lecture: Introduction to Systems Thinking
    Game: Cybernetic simulation computer game (Ecopolicy)
    Video/Audio: Prof Fredmund Malik
    Course Profile: Explanation of myUni, learning activities, assessments, etc
    Group Work: Formation of group projects and Feedback from past students
    2 Lecture: Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs)
    Practice: CLD exercises
    Tutorial: Using Vensim software to develop CLDs
    Group Work: Group project work/discussion
    Video: Prof Russell Ackoff
    Examples: Presentations of past students’ group projects
    3 Lecture: Systems Archetypes (SAs)
    Examples: Applications of CLDs and SAs in real projects
    Practice: SA exercises
    4 Lecture: Leverage Points and Systemic Interventions
    Game: Ecopolicy game
    Group Work: Group project work/progress report
    5 Lecture: Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs)
    Examples: Applications of BBNs in real projects
    Tutorials:
    Using Netica software to develop BBNs
    6 Lecture: Evolutionary Learning Laboratories (ELLabs) and Think2Impact: Platforms for Dealing with Complex Issues
    Examples:
    Applications of ELLabs in real projects
    7 Practice: Developing BBNs for group projects
    Group Work:
    Group project work/progress report
    8 Group Work: Presentations of group projects
    NOTE: students will be informed of the detailed schedule/activities by attending the lectures and checking any relevant information and announcements on MyUni. There might be slight changes in the sequence of modules and learning activities as the course progresses.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    There are three assessment items in this course:
    1. Assignment 1 (10%): a short essay on four systems archetypes and their descriptions
    2. Assignment 2 (20%): a short report – interpretation of making investment decisions using “Ecopolicy” simulation
    3. Assignment 3 (70%): group project including report, presentation and peer assessment  
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Attendance

    Statutory obligations in Singapore are such that attendance in person is a compulsory condition of passing a course. Our specific requirements are that students must attend at least 80% of class sessions to be graded for that course. For these purposes each intensive weekend is defined as comprising 5 sessions with 1 on Friday evening and 2 on each of Saturday and Sunday.

    Each course in total comprises 10 sessions; Students must attend a minimum of 8 sessions to be eligible to be given a grade for the course. Students failing to meet these requirements will be automatically graded 0% Fail (F) on their transcripts.
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment detail will be made available (via MyUni) to students enrolled in the course.
    Submission
    All text based assignments and group project presentations must be submitted via MyUni.
    Please refer to step by step instructions:
    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/myuni/tutorials/files/AssignmentStudentSubmission.pdf

    There are a few points to note about the submission of assignments:
    • Assignment Submission: Assignments should not be emailed to the teaching staff but should be lodged via the MyUni Course site. Assignments may be processed via TURNITIN which is an online plagiarism prevention tool.
    • Cover Sheet: Please submit, separate to your assignment, the completed University of Adelaide Assessment Cover Sheet providing details of yourself and your team members (if applicable), your assignment, the course, date submitted, etc. as well as the declaration signed by you that this is your (your team’s) work. Note that the declaration on any electronically submitted assignment will be deemed to have the same authority as a signed declaration.
    • Backup Copy of Assignments: You are advised to keep a copy of your assignments in case the submitted copy goes missing.
    • Extensions of Time: Any request for an extension of time for the submission of an assignment should be made well before the due date of the assignment to one of the Teaching Staff. Extensions will normally be granted for a maximum of two weeks from the original assignment submission date. Extensions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances and proof, such as a doctor’s certificate, may be required.
    • Failure to submit: Failure to submit an assignment on time or by the agreed extension deadline may result in penalties and may incur a fail grade. A late penalty of 5% of the total available marks for that assessment item will be incurred each day an assignment is submitted late.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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