UK systems thinking, Winograd/Flores, customer focus etc
Wed, 21 Sep 1994 09:27:25 +0000

Hi All,

It's great to see a list dedicated to the ideas and practice of the
learning organisation. I'd like to introduce a number of themes for debate,
discussion and opinion. I am interested in how the systems thinking
concepts advocated by Peter Senge compare with or embrace the traditional
of systems thinking in the UK as researhed and practised by Peter Checkland
(Soft Systems Methodology) and Safford Beer (management applications of
cybernetics theory) especially from a the point of view of practice rather
than academic purity. Systems thinking has been practised in the UK and to
a lesser extent in Europe for many years and would be interesting to know
how much influence the UK/European experience has had on Senge's thinking
about systems thinking. Furthermore the ideas of Flores/Winograd and Action
Technologies/Business Design Associates - the Business Design Technology
(BDT) methodology - in terms of applying cybernetics/systems thinking to
customer satisfaction and customer management, give systems thinking a
grounding in real business application and yet don't appear to figure at
all in the discussion of learning organisations. This starts to map to the
ideas and advice of Don Peppers/Martha Rogers who advocate the systematic
application of information and information technology to develop one-to-one
relationsips with individual customers with an emphasis on learning from
the customer. Finally, Davis and Botkin have some interesting perspectives
in their book "The Monster Under The Bed" with respect to customers
learning from services/producta/business. I am also interested in opinions
and thoughts on the relationship between Robert Fritz's ideas ("Creating"
and "personal mastery" as in the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook) and the
concept of "Flow" expressed by Czikszentmihalyi.

Finally, how do all these ideas and principles tie together in terms of
organisational resource leverage, business (process) reengineering and
customer focus/management. In terms of the latter Flores and Peppers/Rogers
seem to point in the right direction although neither particularly
reference systems thinking/organisational learning. On the other hand, the
Fieldbook tries to embrace business process re-engineering but doesn't
really adequately develop or demonstrate this notion. What do you all

All opinions and additional information and examples are welcome.

John Matthews
INFACT Research, London, UK
Fax: +44 (0) 171 250 0510, Tel: +44 (0) 171 608 3003