MGMT 8007M: Week 2: Seeing Systems Essay Assignment Paper

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MGMT 8007M: Week 2: Seeing Systems Essay Assignment Paper

MGMT 8007M: Complexity and Applied Systems Thinking | Week 2

Systems science provides a somewhat unique mode of inquiry in revealing not just how one kind of system, say a biological system, works, but rather how all kinds of systems work.

— Mobus & Kalton (2015, p. 3)

What does a system look like? Some ways in which something can be organized include type, size, color, geography, alphanumerical, and chronological. One common way is to organize by hierarchy; that is, we see systems containing subsystems. For example, we can look at a large organization and see that it might contain divisions, which might contain subdivisions, and so on down to small work teams. A more common term for a subsystem might be a part, or even a component. Another example is a laptop. How many subsystems or parts can be quickly identified within a laptop? Consider the smart phone—what subsystems are evident? Systems engineering is an approach to building something using multiple tools, techniques, and systems.

The INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook (2015) defines systems engineering as:

An interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems. It focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, and then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem: operations, cost and schedule, performance, training and support, test, manufacturing, and disposal. Systems engineering integrates all the disciplines and specialty groups into a team effort forming a structured development process that proceeds from concept to production to operation. Systems engineering considers both the business and the technical needs of all customers with the goal of providing a quality product that meets the user needs (p. 11).

This week, you examine how these subsystems or components are structured within an organization and how to apply this information to organizational leadership and management. You also begin the Final Project by summarizing how systems thinking and relational dynamics influence leadership and management within the selected organization.

Learning Objectives

This week, you will:

  • Analyze the whole and parts of organizations


You will develop the following skills:
  • Systems thinking
  • Modeling

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s recommended library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Recommended Readings

Boulding, K. E. (1956). General systems theory: The skeleton of science. Management Science, 2(3), 197–208.

Oshry, B. (2007). Seeing systems: Unlocking the mysteries of organizational life. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

  • Act I, “Seeing the Big Picture” (pp. 1–60)
  • Act II, “Seeing Patterns of Relationship” (pp. 61–128)

Stockholm Resilience Centre. (n.d.). Social-ecological systems contain various tipping points or thresholds that can trigger large-scale reorganization. Retrieved August 20, 2014, from

Uhl-Bien, M. (2006). Relational leadership theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership and organizing. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), 654–676.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Document: Coffee Shop System (PowerPoint presentation)

Document: Coffee Shop System (PDF)

Document: Final Project Template (Word document)

INCOSE. (2018). What is systems engineering? Retrieved from

Consider the parable of The Blind Men and the Elephant (Saxe, 1873). Several blind men touch different sections of an elephant, and they are all “seeing” different things. One man is holding the leg and believes it is like a tree; another man is holding the trunk and tells another it is like a snake. Each man is “seeing” individual parts but not the whole. What implications does this parable have for how leaders and managers view their organizations if they only look at the parts individually instead of as a whole?

To prepare for this Discussion, select an organization with which you are familiar. Be sure to review the information about systems engineering on the INCOSE website referenced in the Resources. Consider the various parts of the organization and how looking at these parts as a whole might inform your understanding of the organization. Think of this Discussion as a classroom presentation, wherein you post your ideas and respond to questions.

By Day 3

Initial Post

Post a brief PowerPoint (PPT) presentation addressed to the Board of Directors of your selected organization, including a systems analysis of the organization and its parts.

Be sure to review the Objectives listed for this week and refer to the Discussion Rubric as guidance for the criteria that will be used to assess your participation in this Discussion.

Note: Consider how the parts interrelate and how they aggregate to make up the whole organization.


  • In the presentation, include an analysis of the primary parts of your selected organization.
  • Then, explain how the parts of this organization relate to the whole organization.
  • Finally, explain how understanding the whole and its parts informs the organization’s leadership and management.

By Day 5

Responses to your Colleagues

Respond to at least two colleagues’ posts by adding to your colleagues’ ideas or positing a different perspective to your colleagues’ ideas.

Note: Include proper APA citations to support all statements by referencing sources from relevant peer-reviewed articles published within the last 5 years.


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