A Whole Systems Approach, Part 04/14: What is the Whole System of an Organization?

NOTE: This is a fourteen (14) part series written by Ed Brimmer. I'm reposting his series here, with his permission. For all posts in the series, click here. Thanks for visiting! Lou Hayes, Jr. 

In Part 3 I stated Ackoff's Whole Systems Approach is what I'm going to use for the next 11 parts of the series. In this part of the series we must try & define what we mean by what is the whole system of an Organization in order to understand what we are trying to redesign as a whole instead of just improving parts. The image below enables us to define what the boundaries & interfaces are of an Organization to identify all the interdependent parts of the whole. I believe the best way to identify interdependencies is to try & pull any single part below out of the image and ask whether you can still describe the whole as an organization. For instance, if there is no customer demand there is no organization. If there is no delivered value there is no organization. If we don't have people, processes, & technologies there is no organization. If we do not have interfaces to partners or suppliers there is no organization. In the image, I've provided what I believe are the parts of the whole which if you pull one of them I would not describe it as an organization but something else all together. As another exercise, ask yourself if Waterfall, Agile, Lean, or SAFe are focused on only improving parts of the whole?


To begin at Part 01 of the series, click here

To advance to the next Part 05, click here.


Author: Ed Brimmer. Biography coming soon.


Popular posts from this blog

Presentation Hack: Your Last Slide(s)

Presentation Hack: "For those of you who don't know me..."

The Generalist versus The Specialist