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The assessment for this element of the module is an essay-based piece of coursework .

“Systems thinking essentially seeks to understand phenomena as a whole formed by the interaction of parts.” (Stacey, 2011)


Critically appraise the above statement in relation to changing ideas of strategic thinking and explain how it exists within YOUR company’s approach to strategic management.


A strong essay must use the key themes addressed in the first part of the module to develop the analysis, namely:

Approaches to Strategic Thinking Systems Thinking
Complexity Perspective: New Ways of Thinking About Strategy? Complex Adaptive Systems: Modelling Complexity
The Practice Perspective:

Organisational examples can be used to illustrate the themes covered in the essay. However, the essay is not a case study, it is a theoretical paper.

Remember that a critical study aims to provide a balanced analysis of differing perspectives, and points of view, before drawing the argument to a coherent conclusion


Required: A word processed essay with referencing to literature. 

(1) Utilise academic research using literature from journals, books, etc.

(2) Undertake a critical evaluation making effective use of evidence and sources 
(3) Present findings in an appropriate format (ensure that Harvard referencing is used)

The Concept of Systems Thinking

The systems thinking means transforming the reader or making them evolve through systems thinking knowledge and skills to develop systematic ideas and opinions. It involves interaction of parts and making sure to develop the system as well as identify the previous impacts. According to Bouhali et al. (2015), the systems thinking is considered as an effective way for managing deeper analysis of the roots of systems and understand its conceptualization. The systems thinking has not only facilitated the education of individuals, but also has been considered as a major integrated composition of  components needed to combine together and make the system function properly too. The systems thinking evolves the entire way of understanding the concepts of systems and how the conceptual frameworks associated with it can be beneficial for promoting flexibility, versatility and adaptability (Therivel and Paridario 2013). Thus, the systems thinking basically means thinking about the systems, identifying and evaluation of various aspects of systems thinking, acknowledging the systems and finally conduct researches to gain- detailed in-sight about the systems. Based on several discussions made by Mingers (2014), it helps in assessing the dynamic complexity consisting of the behaviors associated with the interaction of system agents over time and at the same time, manages recognition of judgments and balances to interact with the systems in the environment (Oliver 2015). As I have worked with the Government as an Administrative officer, it is important to understand the systems thinking properly and how it can help in simplifying the complex behaviors and complexity level, furthermore gain various skills to improve the ability to understand the system and predict the behaviors at early stages. Thus, the interaction of parts has assisted in development, systematic thinking as well as combined the skills together as a system to improve the strategic practice management. From the response provided by Morton, Wilson and Cooke (2016), the entire systems thinking includes various aspects of leadership, changes within organization and its ability to adapt to different situations for fostering organizational development, growth and competitive advantage in business for Brugal & Cia, Dominica (Morton, Wilson and Cooke 2016). By working as an Administrative Officer, it is my duty not only to carry out the roles and responsibilities properly but also assist in following the legal laws, rules and regulations for remaining socially responsible and contribute to the economic growth too, whatever the industry may be where I will be working for.

Brugal & Cia is a popular and established rum manufacturing and production company in Dominica that specializes in the production of good quality alcoholic items. The organization operates within the distilled beverages company and the major products of the company are rum, liqueur, alcopop, etc. According to Oliver (2015), the concept of strategic management considers various important aspects by addressing the nature and characteristics of strategic thinking. This will not only enable the company named Brugal & Cia to analyze the different types of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with the actions to be undertaken (brugal-rum.com 2017). The strategic thinking also enables analyzing the company structure and its functions through strategic planning considering the mission and vision of the organization. Therivel and Paridario  (2013) stated that the strategic thinking not only helps in dealing with the challenges, but also will utilize the results obtained from analysis to evaluate the issues and appropriate actions that can be undertaken for resolving the issues (MARIETTO and NASSIF 2013).  The strategic thinking is essential for dealing with situations that are unpredictable and this also proves the worth and capability of the manager of the organization to think strategically and ensure that the physical and psychological pressure to own self and the employees are overcome with ease and effectiveness. Based on the statement by Di Caprio and Santos-Arteaga (2013), one of the most important benefits of strategic thinking is that it allows the company to gain a competitive edge over its competitors by strengthening the activities that create value to the customers. The strategic thinking will also help in evaluating the rules of the market and manage accountability so that each and every one working at Brugal & Cia, Dominica carry out their roles and responsibilities properly (Arvidsson, Holmström and Lyytinen 2014).

According to various researchers, the strategic thinking is considered as an integrated view of the business in mind; furthermore enable planning based on the learning approaches. The strategic thinking will facilitate the development of effective strategies through proper planning and implementation of results. The main approaches to strategic thinking are as follows:

According to Systematic approach, the strategic thinking is based on systematic attitudes and behaviors, which can create a complete system of values and determine the relationship between the various components with effectiveness. Di Caprio and Santos-Arteaga (2013) presented views regarding the strategies formed are based on holistic and integrated attitudes and behaviors, though the activities undertaken are different. The optimization is only possible when a systematic approach is followed and the maximization of the section may also lead to loss of important information and data required to manage the sections appropriately.

Approaches to Strategic Thinking

Focusing on the goals and objectives has facilitated the strategic thinking, which has helped in managing a proper orientation and focus on various aspects including the organization, its employees and the various resources required to manage them and bring out their maximum potential.

Intellectual opportunism is another approach to strategic thinking that can identify the scopes and opportunities and gain the advantage of important principles in strategic thinking. The new issues and experiences, both are obtained, which facilitates critical thinking as well as enhances the potential the organization to adopt new strategies for newer opportunities (Abu-Rahma and Jaleel 2017). The strategic thinking is also not important for developing and implementing useful strategies, but it also has benefited Brugal & Cia to gain the ideas, views and opinions of others to respond to changes and implement the strategies effectively.

The strategic thinking enables connecting the past, present and future to understand the past situations, the present and then make way for new changes to come and bring positive outcomes in the future.

In respect of the statement provided by Hahn (2013), Hypothesizing is another important aspect of systems thinking that creates a link between the creative and analytical features of strategic thinking, which facilitates the integration of systematic thinking through hypothesizing or creativity and hypothesis testing. The analytical methods are used for conducting the hypothesis testing, which improves the strategic planning and ensure that the strategies are implemented properly for successful accomplishment of the business goals and objectives for the rum production company in Dominica.

The systems thinking is a major concept of the learning organization that manages various disciplines, policies, principles, rules and regulations for enhancing the body of knowledge and use various tools and techniques that have been used for the past few years. Stroh (2015) discussed the fact that it is a kind of conceptual framework that enhances the knowledge ability and ensures that sufficient skills and expertise are obtained to become successful in the future. From farm to bottle, every drop of the liquid is distilled properly and filtered to produce the best quality and somewhat different kind of refreshingly dry rum (Bailey et al. 2018). This effective manufacturing and production processes require systems thinking as well as proper knowledge to ensure that the filtering, manufacturing process and production are done properly. Passion, dedicated and hard work are the major components considered as values managed by the organization and thus the Brugal family has carried out the tradition and managed the culture to craft the best quality rum. The strategic systems and thinking are essential for the Brugal family to communicate the passion of the brand to the customers and maintain a consistent culture all around the world, as stated by Amran, Lee and Devi (2014). The special craft that has been passed through generations have discovered the best qualities that make Brugal & Cia exceptional in terms of quality rum making. The systems’ thinking has enabled the company to hand the family recipe from one generation to generation, which is considered as an important tools that has been used till now. The rum is distilled multiple times, which helps in bringing out the cleanest and purest spirit of the rum and meet the clients’ needs and requirements too. The systems thinking is the major components of the learning organization which also includes personal mastery, mental models, development of a shared vision, management of team learning and systems thinking (Kerzner 2018).

The Learning Organization

The personal mastery enables clarification of the personal vision and prioritizing on the development of authority and power, furthermore remain patient and see the reality based on objectivity. It enhances the organizational commitment and influences the learning capacity too. According to Crawford et al. (2013), the mental model are associated with the management of assumptions and is closely related to the enhancement of organizational learning, furthermore influences the company’s ability to respond to changes and ensure successful business functioning too. The development of shared vision has created convenience for Brugal & Cia to create opportunities for people to learn, excel and understand their roles and responsibilities properly (Crawford et al. 2013). This has also enhanced the skills f leaders and allowed them to handle crisis situations through working in coordination, as a team and by pursuing an inspiring goal. The team learning has facilitated the way of thinking and managed communication by allowing the group members to discover insights and share their individual views and opinions. The systems thinking is the final concept of learning organization concept that combines all the other elements and has managed good team dynamics and team working to bring out the best potential of the workforce and the organization as a whole (Brocaset al. 2014).

With the help of systems thinking, the organization has managed to function at the simplest level considering the fact that positive relationships are established between the various components of the system, which improves the ability to build blocks and understand systems thinking. The major blocks for building the understanding for systems thinking are as follows:

System- The systems have considered the various sets of people, rules, regulations, laws, machineries and equipments used along with the various processes that are interconnected to form an effective process (Bouhali et al. 2015).

Variable- The variable defines a particular portion of the system that helps in preparing for the next step, furthermore manage the identifiable and measurable a aspects of the system that change from time to time.

Casual loop diagram- The variables when put together in a logical sequence, has assisted n explaining things the right way and evaluate the consequences to solve a issue before any further issues arise during the time being.

Delays- The cause and effect of the problem is identified and the separation by time is known as the delays. The systems thinking have helped in finding the link between the existing solution and the present problem (Haines 2016).

Personal Mastery

To manage systems thinking, it is very much important to respect the data and information and explanation to a particular problem faced within the organization. Based on the responses of Stroh (2015), to evaluate a problem, the individuals working there have developed an effective hypothesis to identify the cause of such behaviors and then focus on the quantitative evidence to determine whether the theory had been successful or not. Another important thing to be considered is the events that are the major patterns of the systems thinking. The patterns are created based on the structures and thus exponential growth, development and cyclical behaviors’ management helped in looking at the organizational system (Mingers 2014). The structures are identified and implemented with necessary changes and then the testing of hypothesis has been managed with the utilization of simple simulation model, It has also allowed Brugal & Cia in Dominica to deliver services at a faster rate and within the perfect time. Young and Leveson (2013) stated that the systems thinking has been ultimately the ways of providing help and support to people, i.e., the individuals working at the organization. It is used to make the world a better place to live for the people and at the same time, developed a clear set of goals objectives (Young and Leveson 2013). The advancement of technologies improved the workforce efficiency through the implementation of new and advanced technological equipments and machineries, which enhanced the production level too.

The new ways of thinking about strategy means deriving the best outcomes by applying the systems thinking to the personal and professional activities at the organization. One of the major benefits is the optimization where the individuals working at the company have gained a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the system as well as facilitated the systems thinking by integrating the various components of the system with the business processes. The ability to solve problems has become easier while the new and exciting opportunities that have emerged has created place for innovation (Stroh 2015). Creativity and development of own self and the organization too. The systems thinking has created new ways of thinking about the strategies that were needed to be implemented within the organization and even developed a trans-disciplinary understanding of the micro and macro environment factors associated with the systems management. This has unlocked the power of creativity and innovation and in case of any failure, rather than blaming the entire system, new issues tend to emerge. These were handled properly to pass through the various stages of systems thinking about the strategies and strengthened the foothold of the company within the distilled beverages industry in Dominica. The raw materials and resources are mainly obtained from the nature, manufactured into goods that are usable and are then disposed back into the places from where the resources were previously extracted (Mittal 2013). This created more value and made sure to remain socially responsible to create a positive impact on the environment as well. Learning from failure is part of the systems’ new ways to think about strategies and with the use of new tools to integrate into the daily practices, the creativity and innovation ideas have emerged and enabled dynamic divergent and systematic thinking while working at Brugal & Cia, Dominica (brugal-rum.com 2018).

Mental Models

The Soft Systems methodology is one of the major processes of modeling that solves various business issues and manages changes to improve the accountability, flexibility and effectiveness of the organization. It is a new way of thinking about the strategy with the management of various approaches followed step by step. As stated by Highsmith (2013), it is important to enter the situation at first considering the issues that might have been experienced; then provided explanation about the situation to problem and formulate the root definitions of various systems required for fulfilling a particular purpose (Highsmith 2013). The conceptual models of the systems are developed and then the models are compared with real world situations. Due to this, the changes that are needed to be done have been exposed, based on which, the feasibility analysis was conducted and further actions were undertaken to improve the problematic situation too.

According to Mittal (2013), the complex adaptive system enabled proper understanding of the various portions and part of the system responsible for understanding the behaviors of the system perfectly. The complex adaptive systems are associated with the non-linear dynamic systems that are derived from natural and social sciences for maintaining transition across phases and managing positive behaviors too. It is different from multiple agent system and thus has been considered as an effective system that can remain adaptive to different situations and circumstances (Therivel and Paridario 2013). The complex adaptive systems are classified based on a high level of adaptive ability, which provides flexibility during the occurrence of perturbation. Few other major features of the complex adaptive system include simplifying the modeling process through promoting communication among the team members and enabling cooperation and production of desired output with much ease and effectiveness (Mittal 2013). Fostering the communication and cooperation between the employees has been possible, which ensured adapting to different situations and making sure to improve the non-linear interactions too.

Kerzner (2018) believed that the complex dynamic adaptive systems basically represent the difficulty or inability to predict changes or manage changes to adapt to a certain environment or condition. At Brugal & Cia, there were situations when the company failed to compete with other rum manufacturing and production companies in Dominica. In such cases, the company was unable to adapt to changes, which further created complexities and deteriorated the business functioning (Brocas et al. 2014). It was important to adapt a new style of leadership and manage changes that could be vital for bringing out the best potential of employees and improve the organizational effectiveness too.  

Shared Vision

The strategy as practice perspective includes various principles for conducting researches and manages detailed conversation analytical studies. This has enabled Brugal to determine the external and internal environment factors, furthermore assessed the market conditions and what the customers actually wanted. Based on the discussion made by Haines (2016) on behalf of the strategic practice, with the support and help provided with well known as skilled strategists, there was foundation for strategic direction, which favored the company through persuasion, diversity management and adapting to the culture and changing behaviors of customers to ensure higher level of customer satisfaction (Arvidsson, Holmström and Lyytinen 2014). While the strategic management solely focused on the ability to gain competitive advantage over the competitors, the strategy as a practice perspective helped in using various tools required to study the micro as well as macro behaviors and manage close interactions through successful strategic management practices. One example could be where the managers interacted with the employees visually by using various visual tools and techniques during workshops (Bailey et al. 2018). Placing strategy into practice also considers renovating the company structure and enhancing the ability to adapt to changes and sustain a good position within the business environment. With the consideration of strategy as a practice, the micro, meso and macro levels’ functions have improved and the managers have successful managed their roles and responsibilities. At the micro level, the managers supervised the employees working at Brugal and interacted with them often to keep them encouraged (Di Caprio and Santos-Arteaga 2013). This was based on the assessment of actual situations and by adhering to the external management and safety procedures too. At the meso level, the managers used their leadership skills to manage functions for cooperation, furthermore shift between the leadership functions and systems thinking.  According to Highsmith (2013), it has helped in handling emergency situations and improve the level of safety and comfort at the company too (brugal-rum.com 2018). The macro level experimented the leadership capabilities and functions by accumulating knowledge, sharing responsibilities and through exchange and updating of information required to undertake a collective action at Brugal &Cia, Dominica.

References

Abu-Rahma, A. and Jaleel, B., 2017. Influence of managers’ time orientation on strategic practices in the UAE: The moderating role of environmental uncertainty. International Journal of Emerging Markets, 12(2), pp.219-237.

Amran, A., Lee, S.P. and Devi, S.S., 2014. The influence of governance structure and strategic corporate social responsibility toward sustainability reporting quality. Business Strategy and the Environment, 23(4), pp.217-235.

Arvidsson, V., Holmström, J. and Lyytinen, K., 2014. Information systems use as strategy practice: A multi-dimensional view of strategic information system implementation and use. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 23(1), pp.45-61.

Bailey, C., Mankin, D., Kelliher, C. and Garavan, T., 2018. Strategic human resource management. Oxford University Press.

Bouhali, R., Mekdad, Y., Lebsir, H. and Ferkha, L., 2015. Leader roles for innovation: Strategic thinking and planning. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 181, pp.72-78.

Brocas, I., Carrillo, J.D., Wang, S.W. and Camerer, C.F., 2014. Imperfect choice or imperfect attention? Understanding strategic thinking in private information games. Review of Economic Studies, 81(3), pp.944-970.

brugal-rum.com. (2018). Premium Rum from the Dominican Republic | Brugal Rum. [online] Available at: https://www.brugal-rum.com/ [Accessed 31 Jul. 2018].

Crawford, V.P., Costa-Gomes, M.A. and Iriberri, N., 2013. Structural models of nonequilibrium strategic thinking: Theory, evidence, and applications. Journal of Economic Literature, 51(1), pp.5-62.

Di Caprio, D. and Santos-Arteaga, F.J., 2013. Strategic diffusion of information and preference manipulation. In Management Theories and Strategic Practices for Decision Making (pp. 40-58). IGI Global.

Hahn, R., 2013. ISO 26000 and the standardization of strategic management processes for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Business Strategy and the Environment, 22(7), pp.442-455.

Haines, S., 2016. The systems thinking approach to strategic planning and management. CRC Press.

Highsmith, J.R., 2013. Adaptive software development: a collaborative approach to managing complex systems. Addison-Wesley.

Kerzner, H., 2018. Project management best practices: Achieving global excellence. John Wiley & Sons.

MARIETTO, M.L. and NASSIF, V.M.J., 2013. Strategy as practice in the structurationist perspective: An essay on ontology of strategic practice in organizations. Revista de Administração FACES Journal, 12(4).

Mingers, J., 2014. Systems thinking, critical realism and philosophy: A confluence of ideas. Routledge.

Mittal, S., 2013. Emergence in stigmergic and complex adaptive systems: A formal discrete event systems perspective. Cognitive Systems Research, 21, pp.22-39.

Morton, J., Wilson, A.D. and Cooke, L., 2016. Open strategy initiatives: open, IT-enabled episodes of strategic practice.

Oliver, D.A.V.I.D., 2015. Identity work as a strategic practice. Cambridge handbook of strategy as practice, pp.331-344.

Stroh, D.P., 2015. Systems thinking for social change: A practical guide to solving complex problems, avoiding unintended consequences, and achieving lasting results. Chelsea Green Publishing.

Therivel, R. and Paridario, M.R., 2013. The practice of strategic environmental assessment. Routledge.

Young, W. and Leveson, N., 2013, December. Systems thinking for safety and security. In Proceedings of the 29th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (pp. 1-8). ACM.

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