system thinking

system thinking
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University Definitions of cheating and plagiarism

According to the Arab Open University By-laws,

“the following acts represent cases of cheating and plagiarism:

· Verbatim copying of printed material and submitting them as part of TMAs without proper academic acknowledgement and documentation.
· Verbatim copying of material from the Internet, including tables and graphics.
· Copying other students’ notes or reports.
· Using paid or unpaid material prepared for the student by individuals or firms.
· Utilization of, or proceeding to utilize, contraband materials or devices in examinations.”

Penalty on plagiarism:
The following is the standard plagiarism penalty applied across branches as per Article 11 of the university by-laws:
1) Awarding of zero for a TMA wherein more than 20% of the content is plagiarized.

2) Documentation of warning in student record.

3) Failure in the course to dismissal from the University.

All University programs are required to apply penalties that are consistent with the University by laws.

Examples of Plagiarism

Copying from a single or multiple sources, this is where the student uses one or more of the following as the basis for the whole, or a good part, of the assignment:

1. Published or unpublished books, articles or reports
2. The Internet
3. The media (e.g.TV programmes, radio programmes or newspaper articles)
4. An essay from an essay bank
5. A piece of work previously submitted by another student
6. Copying from a text which is about to be submitted for the same assignment


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 case study “Google’s Organizational Structure & Organizational Culture”. As you read through the case, create one multiple cause diagram to identify the factors/sources which can lead to Google’s innovation. 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 more than 200 words. (15% marks).
b) Based on what you learned in T205B concept file 04 section II “Control”, and taking “Promoting Innovation” as your goal, draw one closed loop control model to show the inputs’, processes, and control that can lead to achieving that goal. Reflect on your diagram in more than 200 words (15% marks).
c) Using an essay format of no more than 2000 words, and based on what you learned in T205B concept files 04 and 05, tackle the following:

1- Discuss the concept of organizational structure. Evaluate the role of organizational structure on effectiveness and performance analyzing how adopting the wrong structure can lead to failure. Then Assess which type of task related structure is required to meet Google’s communication needs. Justify your work based on concepts covered in T205B concept file 04, section III structure, and section IV Development (Word Count 600; 20% Marks).

2- Discuss the role of organizational culture in shaping organizational performance and assess the role of Google’s organizational culture on performance. (Word Count 600 Words; 20 % Marks).

3- Discuss the concept of organizational learning and assess whether Google is a learning organization; justify your answers with evidence from the case (400 words; 15 % Marks).

4- Describe the principles of systems thinking, analyze their effectiveness for management, for problem solving and for decision making, and contrast its principles to those of strategic management (500 words, 15 Marks).

(2000 words) (70 marks) (Please see guidance below)

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 to Question 01

For this question you need to read the assigned article carefully and to reflect back on concept file 04 and 05 for the theoretical assessment.

(a) At this stage of the course you are expected to have developed good understanding of the purpose of drawing multiple cause diagrams as part of applying the SUDA process for solving a messy situation. A multiple cause diagram is the third type of diagram drawn in the understanding phase of the SUDA process of mess analysis, in order to identify the multiple causes and effects of a situation or an event. Please pay attention to the conventions and make sure that the identified causes and their effects 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 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 develop each section of the essay by relying on both theoretical principles and practical examples from the case.

Google’s Organizational Structure & Organizational Culture

Google’s organizational structure and organizational culture are aligned to support the company’s competitive strength.
Google’s success is linked to the effectiveness of its organizational structure and organizational culture in supporting excellence in innovation. The company’s organizational structure is not conventional. Google’s organizational culture is also not typical because it emphasizes change and direct social links within the firm. Theory suggests that a strong alignment between a firm’s organizational structure and its organizational culture can lead to higher chances of success. This benefit is manifested in the case of Google’s businesses that continue to expand and prosper. Thus, the company’s current dominant position is attributable to the synergistic benefits of its organizational structure and organizational culture.
Google’s organizational structure supports the company’s organizational culture to maximize effectiveness of innovation.
Google’s Organizational Structure
Google has a cross-functional organizational structure, which is technically a matrix organizational structure with a considerable degree of flatness. Thus, the company’s organizational structure has three main characteristics:
1. Function-based definition
2. Product-based definition
3. Flatness
Google uses function as basis for grouping employees. For example, the company has a Sales Operations team, an Engineering & Design Team, and a Product Management Team, among others. The firm also uses products as basis for grouping employees. For example, the company groups employees for developing Nexus devices. The firm also groups employees for its Fiber business. In addition, the firm’s organizational structure has considerable flatness. A flat organizational structure means that Google’s employees, teams or groups can bypass middle management and report directly to CEO Larry Page. Employees can also meet and share information across teams.
Google’s Organizational Culture
Google’s organizational culture is not typical, partly because of the effects of the firm’s organizational structure. In essence, structure and culture interact to influence the capabilities of the organization. Google’s organizational culture is:
1. Open
2. Innovative
3. Smart with emphasis on excellence
4. Hands-on
5. Supports small-company-family rapport
Openness is achieved through the matrix organizational structure. Within Google’s organizational culture context, employees feel free to give their ideas and opinions. Innovation is at the heart of Google. Every employee is conditioned to contribute innovative ideas. In this organizational culture, the firm also favors smart employees who strive for excellence. In addition, the company supports employee involvement in projects and experiments. The overall ambiance at the company’s offices is warm because the firm’s organizational culture maintains a small-company-family feel, where people can easily talk and share ideas with each other, including CEO Larry Page. Thus, Google’s organizational culture supports excellence in innovation through sharing of ideas and capability to rapidly respond to the market.
Our culture
It’s really the people that make Google the kind of company it is. We hire people who are smart and determined, and we favor ability over experience. Although Googlers share common goals and visions for the company, we come from all walks of life and speak dozens of languages, reflecting the global audience that we serve. And when not at work, Googlers pursue interests ranging from cycling to beekeeping.
We strive to maintain the open culture often associated with startups, in which everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. In our weekly (“TGIF”) meetings—not to mention over email or in the cafe—Googlers ask questions directly to Larry, Sergey and other execs about any number of company issues. Our offices and cafes are designed to encourage interactions between Googlers within and across teams, and to spark conversation about work as well as play.
Google’s Business Leadership and Organizational Culture
Google Inc. has received a lot of attention and acclaim for its unusual organizational culture, which is designed to encourage both loyalty and creativity. Google has created many significant products through this emphasis on innovation, including the Google search engine, Google Maps and the Google Chrome Web browser. The company is now much larger than it was when the organizational culture first developed, forcing some changes to the original model.
Leadership Structure
Google’s corporate structure is not particularly unusual other than the existence of a few unique leadership positions such as Chief Culture Officer and Chief Internet Evangelist. The company is overseen by a board of directors, which passes instructions down through an executive management group. This group oversees several departments such as Engineering, Products, Legal, Finance and Sales. Each of these departments is divided into smaller units. For instance, the Sales department has branches dedicated to the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Despite the use of a standard corporate organizational structure, Google has developed a corporate culture based on giving employees substantial leeway to develop new ideas without excessive oversight.
The 70/20/10 Rule
All Google employees follow a rule called the 70/20/10 rule, under which they are expected to devote 70 percent of every work day to whichever projects are assigned by management, 20 percent of each day to new projects or ideas related to their core projects, and 10 percent to any new ideas they want to pursue regardless of what they might be. The company credits this rule with being the driving force behind many of Google’s new products and services, because programmers, salespeople and even executives are given enough space to be creative. When the company became too large to easily manage the flow of new ideas and projects, it instituted a schedule of meetings between employees and the company’s founders and chief executives. At these meetings, employees can pitch new ideas and projects directly to the top executives.
Although the culture of creativity at Google has resulted in many new products, critics such as Gene Munster from the Piper Jaffray Investment Bank charge that most of these products have not produced substantial new revenue. Because advertising on search engine pages produces much of Google’s revenues, many of its products are offered for free to encourage the use of the Google search engine. Google initially paid employees less than many other Silicon Valley firms, but used other perks to attract employees. For instance, Google employees receive free food cooked by a company chef, are provided with bus rides to work and are allowed to travel through the building on scooters and bicycles. They also have access to company daycare facilities, exercise gyms and other amenities. These perks are intended to help create a fun and creative atmosphere. In addition, Google now offers stock plans and higher wages that have brought its compensation package into the same range as other companies in the same industry.
Google’s Motto
Google’s unofficial motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” and many of its policies and corporate decisions are based on trying to live up to this motto. Although it may seem eccentric to pursue such an approach in a business environment where profit is always the final concern, employees report feeling very differently about working at Google as opposed to other companies. According to a New York Times article from 2005, Google employees interviewed said that they felt a sense of being personally invested in the company’s sense of mission and future success. A 2009 article in The Economist found that the company’s growth has produced some problems, with teams developing new ideas secretly in isolation from each other, resulting in some resentment from other teams in the company.
How Google Has Changed Management, 10 Years After its IPO
Google went public almost 14 years ago, and since then has dramatically changed the way the world accesses information. It has also helped shape the practice of management. Staying true to its roots as an engineering-centric company, Google has stood out both for its early skepticism of the value of managers as well as for its novel, often quantitative approaches to management decisions. Along the way it became famous for its reliance on exceedingly difficult interview questions — later abandoned — and its “20% time” policy — reportedly on its way out.
How Google manages
The company faced a challenge in convincing its employees that management was actually valuable. To do so, it had to come up with a brand of management all its own, centered around “people analytics,” a quantitative approach to hiring and operations.
Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, wrote about its latest “people analytics” experiment. It is a longitudinal survey of Google employees on everything from happiness to teamwork to office layout. Results will take years to collect, but Bock offers a window into the company’s quantitative approach to management and shares some stats on work-life balance at Google.
20% time
From early on, Google employees were encouraged to spend a significant portion of their time on interesting side projects, with the idea that some of these projects would become new products. Both Gmail and AdSense, the company’s ad software for publishers, started out as 20% time projects. But back in 2010, Chris Trimble criticized 20% time both for being expensive and for emphasizing ideas over execution. Writing last year, amid reports that the company was ending the policy, Michael Schrage took a slightly different view, arguing that 20% time is great for some employees but not for others. As for deciding who gets it? He suggested letting the data decide, an approach Google could no doubt get on board with.
How Google innovates
BalaIyer and Tom Davenport attempted to “reverse engineer” Google’s innovation machine in 2008. The first step to innovating like Google, they argue, is patience. Not just a long-term outlook, but the investment that goes with it to set up the infrastructure — technical and managerial — that makes innovation possible. From there, the authors offer advice including building innovation into job descriptions, and trusting users to inform product strategy.

This emphasis on organizational structure makes Google able to innovate continually over time. Key traits of innovative organizations like Google include the ability to learn from experiments and to combine “disparate and even opposing ideas.”
In addition Google is an example of a firm which is not afraid of failure. Google experienced many product failures over the years which emphasizes the importance of taking risks.
What Google could do better
Not everyone is so enthused. In 2011, Joshua Gans used Google+ to argue that the company was now playing catchup in key areas. Scott Anthony surveyed Google’s innovation track record and concluded that its new products mostly hadn’t delivered results, and therefore Google was still fundamentally a search advertising company.
Business in the age of Google
Google hasn’t just changed management by virtue of its own practices. Its very existence has dramatically changed the way lots of companies do business. An article by Andrei Hagiu and David Yoffie asks “What’s Your Google Strategy?”, and describes tactics firms can use to succeed in an online world dominated by powerful platforms.
Google, though, maintains an optimism about its direction even as it chops down its underperformers. That’s due, in part, to its capability to learn from its mistakes and not punish people involved in them. Even though Google killed social experiments like Buzz and Wave, it forged ahead with Google+.
And this points to another big strength of Google: the company is very good at working on long-term visions. Social has become key to the company’s growth despite early failures. Google is also becoming a media company, throwing big money into hardware initiatives like Google TV and the Nexus Q media streamer, products that, in their initial incarnations, are not going to be remembered as successes. Google is also pushing to take a few market share points from Apple and Amazon in the media sales market.
Finally, there’s the engineering-friendly culture of experimentation, or to put it in more shareholder-friendly terms, an R&D focus. Google is doing original research in areas that appear to be orthogonal to its mission — self-driving cars, augmented-reality eyeglasses, and even energy. But these projects can pay off in numerous ways and their value can (but not always) feed back to the mainline business.
Can a media company be successfully run as an engineering company? Google, it needs to be said, actually is a media operation. It makes its money selling media advertising, and gathers 72 hours a minute of video on YouTube.

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