MANAGEMT 7115 - Systems Thinking for Management
North Terrace Campus - Trimester 2 - 2018
General Course Information
Course Code MANAGEMT 7115 Course Systems Thinking for Management Coordinating Unit Business School Term Trimester 2 Level Postgraduate Coursework Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 36 hours per week Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Restrictions Available to Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master of Business Administration students only - other students must first meet with program director for enrolment approval Course Description Many of today's complex challenges cannot be tackled with the narrowly-focused, unconnected thinking of the past. Managers must make decisions and take action in complex environments in which finance, economics, markets, people and nature are interconnected and interdependent. In addition, this `messy? interconnectedness blurs the boundaries between organisations, communities and fields of expertise ? nothing is neat and tidy. This course will introduce you to the world of systems and systems thinking. We will consider the merits of looking at wholes, rather than unconnected parts, and we will explore ways in which managers can make use of the nature of systems, even in complex, unpredictable environments, to influence outcomes in a more profound way than can be achieved with `linear? or `mechanistic? thinking
Course Coordinator: Dr Sam WellsDr Sam Wells BA (Hons), D. Phil. Oxon.
Sam Wells is MBA Academic Director and Director of Academic Experience in the Business School. He graduated from
the University of Adelaide in 1978 with 1st Class Honours in History. As South Australia’s 1979 Rhodes Scholar, he
went on to the University of Oxford, where he completed his doctorate in 1983.
After a year lecturing and tutoring in History at the University of Adelaide, Sam embarked on a career in private enterprise. Over the next 18 years, he worked for SA-based organisations – from brewing to plastics, banking to agribusiness. He developed expertise in operational industrial relations, human resource management and occupational health and
safety, before moving into senior executive roles.
Sam’s consulting and research interests include:
· The management of the human environment within organisations in a way that enables all
individuals ‘to be everything they are’;
· The challenge of creating enduring organisational success by honouring and building on the values
and aspirations held by employees in ‘real life’;
· The dynamics of the paradigm shift to organisational and community sustainability.
Dr Sam Wells
Adelaide Business School
Room 12.53, Level 12, 10 Pulteney Street
The University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Telephone: 8313 8336
Mobile: 0419819 959
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
1. Apply concepts of systems thinking and complexity to real life management challenges.
2. Identify underlying root causes rather than the symptoms of a problem;
3. Analyse positive and negative systems feedback and explain the role of feedback in system dynamics;
4. Identify and explain the operation of systems archetypes;
5. Explain the characteristics and behaviour of complex, adaptive systems, and the implications for the role of management; and
6. Explain the nature and role of leverage points for systemic interventions.
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) Deep discipline knowledge
- informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
- acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
- accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
1-6 Critical thinking and problem solving
- steeped in research methods and rigor
- based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
- demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
1,2,5 Teamwork and communication skills
- developed from, with, and via the SGDE
- honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
- encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
1-6 Career and leadership readiness
- technology savvy
- professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
- forward thinking and well informed
- tested and validated by work based experiences
1,5 Intercultural and ethical competency
- adept at operating in other cultures
- comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
- able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
- demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
1-6 Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
- a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
- open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
- able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
Textbook: Provided on the MBA Textbook list
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThe core learning in this course is undertaken face-to-face in weekly classes.
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.You could expect to spend in the order of 100 hours of study time to
complete the course (including time for attending classes, reading and doing
assignments) – this is just a guide to assist you in engaging appropriately
with the course requirements.
Learning Activities Summary
Week Topic Readings 1 Mental models and paradigms – bicycles and frogs The nature of systems – open systems (living systems) Meadows, Chapters 1 & 2 2 Why systems work so well – Resilience/Redundancy; Self-Organisation; Hierarchy/Holarchy Meadows, Chapters.3 & 4 3 Systems traps/archetypes – the road to hell paved with good intentions Meadows, Chapter 5 4 Systemic indicators of systems progress Meadows, D. H. (1998) Indicators and information systems for sustainable development, The Balaton Group.
http://www.iisd.org/pdf/s_ind_2.pdf (esp. the Summary)
5 Dancing with systems– the limitations of analysis; loving the mess Meadows, Chapter 7 6 Leverage points – Places to intervene in a system Meadows, Chapter 6 7 Implications for Management – Control and Liberation Wells, S (2011) “HRM for sustainability: Creating a new paradigm”, in
Clarke, M (ed), Readings in HRM and
Sustainability, Tilde University Press, 133-46.
8 Implications for Management – Leadership
INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT DUE
Heifetz, R. A., & Laurie, D. L. (2001) ‘The work of leadership’, Harvard Business Review, 79(11). 9 Implications for Management – Accounting Gray, R. (2002) ‘Of messiness, systems and sustainability: Towards a more social and environmental finance and accounting’, British Accounting Review, 34, 357-386 10 Implications for Management – the Market Sterman, J. D. (2001) “System dynamics modelling: Tools for learning in a complex world”, California Management Review, 43(4), 8-25. 11 Implications for Management – Organisational
Hamann, R., Kapelus, P., Sonnenberg, D., Mackenzie, A., & Hollesen, P. (2005) “Local governance as a complex system”, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 18, 61-73. 12 Topic review and elaboration
GROUP ASSIGNMENT DUE
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
ASSESSMENT TASK COLLABORATIVE / INDIVIDUAL WEIGHTING WORD COUNT / TIME Learning Journal Individual 30% Max 300 words each week Individual Assignment Individual 40% Max 2500 words Group project Collaborative 30% Max 3000 words
Assessment Related RequirementsSpecific requirements for each assignment are outlined in Appendix A and will be discussed
further in class and/or via MyUni.
A copy of the Postgraduate Programs:
Communication Skills Guide will have been given to you at the beginning of your program. This guide will assist you to structure your assignments. A copy of the guide can also be downloaded from:
This publication also provides guidelines on a range of other important communication skills including writing essays and management reports, making oral presentations etc. In preparing any written piece of assessment for your postgraduate studies it is important to draw on the relevant ‘literature’ to support critical analysis. Also essential is to reference the literature used. Correct referencing is
important because it identifies the source of the ideas and arguments that you present, and sometimes the source of the actual words you use, and helps to avoid the problem of plagiarism (see below)
The Harvard system is widely used in the Business School. Guidelines for the use of this style of referencing can be found in the Communication Skills Guide.
Assessment DetailLearningJournal (30%)
You are expected to reflect regularly on learnings, insights and connections between ideas from the course workshops, and also to reflect on your life outside the workshops, seen through the lens of your systems learnings. Your reflections should be captured in an electronic journal.
You should make a journal entry at least once a week, but you can make entries more often if you wish – total entries for each week should be up to 300 words.
Individual Assignment (40%)
In no more than 2500 words, describe one of the systems archetypes, how it operates in your workplace, what its impact is, and a systems-based solution that will prevent the archetype doing lasting damage to your organisation.
Group Project (30%)
No more than 3000 words:
· Indentify a well-publicized State or
Federal Government policy;
· Research its background, context and
· Undertake a critical analysis of the
policy from a systems perspective;
· Recommend improvements or
alternatives to the policy, also from a systems perspective.
Remember, this is not about political ideology, but about systemic effectiveness.
SubmissionAll text based assignments and group project presentations must be submitted via MyUni.
Please refer to step by step instructions:
There are a few points to note about the submission of assignments:
§ Assignment Submission: Assignments should not be emailed, except by special arrangement, 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 appropriate University of Adelaide Assessment Cover Sheet. 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.
§ Failure to submit: Failure to submit an assignment on time or by the agreed extension deadline may result in penalties.
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.
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.
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This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.
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