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SYSTEMS’ THINKING THEORY & PRACTICE

T205B – SYSTEMS’ THINKING THEORY & PRACTICE

read these instructions carefully, and contact your tutor if you require any further clarifications. You should submit your completed assignment to your tutor to arrive no later than the cut-off Date (April, 25, 2015 unless otherwise indicated by the deanship)

Please use standard A4 size paper for submitting the hard copy of your TMA. Your name, personal identifier, course and assignment numbers must appear at the top of each sheet. A soft copy of your TMA must be uploaded to the university moodle within the indicated cut-off date. The hard & soft copies must be identical. Please leave wide margins and space at the end of each sheet for tutor comments. It is better to use double spacing so that you can easily handwrite corrections to your drafts and tutors have space to include their feedback on the script. Start each question in the assignment on a new page. Any extended text should ideally be word-processed, but, diagrams and accompanying notes may be hand drawn and hand written and on an A4 paper.

Completing and sending your assignments
When you have completed your TMA, you must fill in the assignment form (PT3), taking care to fill all information correctly including your personal identifier, course code, section & tutor, and assignment numbers. Each TMA and its PT3 form should be uploaded on the AOU branch moodle within the cut-off date. Late submissions require approval from the branch course coordinator and will be subject to grade deductions. All assignments are treated in strict confidence.
If you feel that you are unable to meet the cut-off date of the TMA because of unusual circumstances, please contact your tutor as soon as possible to discuss a possible extension to the cut-off date.
Plagiarism
There is special attention given to the issue of plagiarism (that is, copying any source without putting quotation marks round the words or citing the reference) because it is something which students are worried about. Some students find it difficult to distinguish plagiarism from using evidence or arguments that they have read in the book of others. If you want to use ideas from the course texts, feel free to do so, but make sure that you rework the wording. However, if you simply copy materials then this may suggest to the tutor that you have not fully achieved these objectives. The best way to use materials and ideas is by using them in your own work and in your own words.

In addition, some students find it difficult to distinguish plagiarism from using evidence or arguments that they have read in the work of others. Insecurity about finding their own words may tempt students to ‘lift’ chunks word for word from other people’s texts. Be careful not to do this to excess, and always credit the work of others by giving a reference or putting the words in quotation marks. Plagiarism will lead to a loss of marks and extensive plagiarism could mean that you fail a TMA.

Introduction

This TMA has one question with three parts. You should answer them all. The questions in this assignment are all about different aspects of the process of exploring a complex situation: drawing different kinds of maps of it, recognizing how complex it is, identifying the different perspectives it can be viewed from, and stepping back to reflect on this whole process of exploration to see the strengths and weaknesses of the approach you have adopted, and how you might do it better.

Question 01 (100 % marks)

(a)    Read through the attached article “Organizational Structure: The Case of Toyota”. As you read through the article create one spray diagram to summarize the case content respecting the conventions, and techniques. It is advised that students submit hand drawn diagrams as opposed to computer generated ones. Photocopies of diagrams should not be accepted. Reflect on your diagram in no more than 200 words.  (15% marks).
(b)    Based on what you learned in T205B concept file 04 section II “Control”, and based on the content of the article, and taking “Fixing a failing structure” as your goal draw one closed loop control model diagram to show the various inputs, and the  transformation process,  that can lead to reaching this goal. You need to show all the components of the control model diagram,  the inputs’, processes, control (actuator, comparator, sensor), that can lead to goal achievement . Reflect on your diagram (15% marks)

(c)    Using an essay format of no more than 2500 words, and based on what you learned in T205B concept file 04 section I “Organizations are They Rational”, readings 01 and 07, section III “Structure”, section IV development, section V culture and climate, and section VI “Decision Making” and based on the ideas put forth by Taggart in the attached article:

1-    Discuss the concept of organizational structure and assess which type of task related structure is required to meet Toyota’s communication needs. (Word Count 500; 15 Marks)
2-    Discuss the concepts of organizational culture and climate and assess Toyota’s culture and climate. (Word count 400; 15 Marks)
3-    Assess the extent to which Toyotas structure, culture and climate played a role in its failure to react to the defect problem, (Word count 400; 15 Marks).
4-    Discuss the different perspectives on decision making and assess how the decision making process at Toyota has affected its ability to respond to the defect problem (Word count 400; 15 Marks).
5-    Discuss the concept of organizational learning and assess whether Toyota is a learning organization; justify your answers with evidence from the case (300 words; 10 Marks).

General Mark’s deductions of 20% as follows

•    PT3 Form (failure to use the PT3 completely filled) (deduct up to 5% marks)
•    TMA Presentation and Structure, and word count    (untidy, work way below or above the word count, no display of word count) (deduct up to 5% marks)
•    Referencing and in-text citation (poor referencing and in-text citation, without plagiarism, (deduct up to 10% marks).

Guidance

Guidance to Question 01

For this question you need to read the assigned article carefully and to reflect back on concept file 04 for the theoretical assessment.

(a)    At this stage of the course you are expected to have developed good understanding of the purpose of drawing spray diagrams as part of applying the SUDA process for solving a messy situation. A spray diagram is the first type of diagrams drawn in the sensing phase of the SUDA process of mess analysis, in order to summarize the main ideas of a case, or the main components/elements of a situation. Please pay attention to the conventions and make sure that the central topic and other subtopics are relevant, and do make sense to the reader. Go back to T552 (Diagramming) the appendix to refresh your memory about the conventions.

(b)    This is your first attempt at drawing a control model diagram. The task should not be challenging though. Refer to Concept file 04 section II “Control”.  You need to draw a control model diagram to show how the selected inputs can reach the stated goal. You also need to illustrate clear, relevant, and non-overlapping inputs, clear and accurate transformation process and an output which is consistent with the goal. You also need to specify which organizational entity is in charge of assuming the role of each of the elements/components of the control model (i.e. actuator, sensor, and comparator). The parties in charge of performing each task within the control mechanism should be clearly identified. It is very important that your diagram is specific rather than generic.

(c)    Here you need to practice your analytical skills to assess what is required. Remember to start with a good introduction in which you define the assessed topic before moving on to explaining your plan for working on the TMA. In the body you should move on to assess the causes of the problems faced by Toyota and the impact of the organization’s structure, climate and decision making on its reaction to the problem. You also need to evaluate whether Toyota is a learning organization by relying on both theoretical principles and practical examples, and on the ideas presented in the assigned article.

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