Systems Thinking and Managing Complexity


How do you see the world?


I applied to Temple’s full-time MBA program knowing that I brought to the table a specific way of seeing the world: I analyze an issue and wrap my head around the end goal, and then systematically break apart the steps necessary to achieve that end result.  As I’ve come to understand my brain’s way of thinking, I begin with a holistic approach and then delve down into more logical methods of analyzing the steps crucial to task completion.


As I read through this week’s case study (STARS Air Ambulance: An Information Systems Challenge), it became apparent that protagonist Sharaz Khan similarly analyzed STARS’ information system holistically followed by a logical step-by-step task analysis approach as I have found myself performing over the years. What Khan saw was a company with an organization-wide lack of awareness about system and IT solutions, where departments were not unified and instead operating in a reactionary mode to any critical IT needs, and such a disconnect between centralized IT function and IS personnel created a palpable lack of supervision.


Exemplified in this HBR case, IT systems and sytems-thinking allow professionals to manage complexities within the workplace. Not only are lines of data streamlined by systems, so too are interpersonal relationships and day-to-day business operations. By developing a streamlined communications system that linked all departments within STARS, and seeing the world through an information technology/systems lens, Khan was able to reduce the complexity in the workplace and even build trust within his team.



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