4801 Shares

What is the system thinking in project management?

What is the system thinking in project management? Topic: Elements of good business plan
June 20, 2019 / By Dorcia
Question: I am studying project management . I can not find the concept of system thinking . Could you tell me what it is ? and how do project managers use it for ? and how to apply it ? Thanks
Best Answer

Best Answers: What is the system thinking in project management?

Cassandra Cassandra | 8 days ago
The concept of "Systems Thinking" pertains to viewing something holistically. When one element of a system is changed, it could affect other elements in that system. (The term "system" here should not be thought of strictly as a computer system.) The reason why this idea is so important to Project Managers is that they want to avoid "unintended consequences" at all costs. The opposite of "systems thinking" is to view something "with blinders on" or in a "stovepipe." These terms mean that you're only looking at what is right in front of you rather than figuring out what effects may be produced by changing that thing (or what other factors may affect your project). Here is an example... Let's say that your assignment as a Project Manager is to implement a new computer system that automates one or more business processes. The temptation for the PM is to concentrate on the technology alone; programming the system, establishing the network connections, converting the data, etc. The right approach, however, is to go deeper than the computer system itself. The computer system should automate the business processes but are the business processes any good (or do they need to be revised before implementing the new software)? If you use technology to automate bad processes, you're not accomplishing much for the business and the project may have lackluster results. A "systems thinking" approach sees technology (in the example above) as just one element among several; all of which need to work together in harmony and alignment in order for the "system" (such as a business) to work effectively and optimally. When I start working on a project, the first thing I do is to construct a one-page diagram of the "End State" (i.e., what the project will produce when the project is over and the PM is gone). My checklist (to ensure that I'm thinking about and including in my project plan all the elements within the "system") is generally as follows: o Business Processes - Which business processes are being affected by the project? (The Accounts Receivable process? The Customer Service process?) How are the processes measured to ensure they are successful? How is success defined? What operating policies (if any) need to change as a result of this project? o Sourcing - Are there any third-parties who are doing part of the work within these processes? (Companies could outsource their legal work to a third-party attorney, for example; or they could outsource their customer service call center to a third-party company.) If these third-parties are part of the process, then they need to be included and involved in your project. o Organization - How are the people who execute the tasks within the processes organized? Who is accountable for the success or failure of the work? Will the staffing levels need to be increased or decreased as a result of this project? Will new jobs need to be defined or existing job responsibilities change as a result of your project? Will the people in the organization need to be trained? Will you need to communicate to them? o Technology - What pieces of technology will be affected by this project? Will any software need to be designed, built, tested? Will software need to be reconfigured as a result of this project? How will the technology be supported and maintained (by the IT department perhaps)? The bottom line for "systems thinking" and Project Management is that you want to think through all the possible effects of your project on processes, policies, the organization, third-party partners, technology, reports, data and just about anything else you can think of. You want to be aware of these effects so that you can think ahead and plan ahead in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. Be careful when someone tells you something like this: "Don't worry about that (or don't worry about them); this is just an IT project." As a PM, it's your job to think through how your project affects ALL elements within a "system," to plan accordingly and to manage stakeholder expectations accordingly. Good luck! P.S. I have taken the liberty of applying Systems Thinking in a Project Management context (based on your question). If you're interested in researching Systems Thinking as a standalone topic, you may want to look into the works of Peter Senge who is a famous champion of Systems Thinking.
👍 224 | 👎 8
Did you like the answer? What is the system thinking in project management? Share with your friends

We found more questions related to the topic: Elements of good business plan


Cassandra Originally Answered: What is the system thinking in project management?
The concept of "Systems Thinking" pertains to viewing something holistically. When one element of a system is changed, it could affect other elements in that system. (The term "system" here should not be thought of strictly as a computer system.) The reason why this idea is so important to Project Managers is that they want to avoid "unintended consequences" at all costs. The opposite of "systems thinking" is to view something "with blinders on" or in a "stovepipe." These terms mean that you're only looking at what is right in front of you rather than figuring out what effects may be produced by changing that thing (or what other factors may affect your project). Here is an example... Let's say that your assignment as a Project Manager is to implement a new computer system that automates one or more business processes. The temptation for the PM is to concentrate on the technology alone; programming the system, establishing the network connections, converting the data, etc. The right approach, however, is to go deeper than the computer system itself. The computer system should automate the business processes but are the business processes any good (or do they need to be revised before implementing the new software)? If you use technology to automate bad processes, you're not accomplishing much for the business and the project may have lackluster results. A "systems thinking" approach sees technology (in the example above) as just one element among several; all of which need to work together in harmony and alignment in order for the "system" (such as a business) to work effectively and optimally. When I start working on a project, the first thing I do is to construct a one-page diagram of the "End State" (i.e., what the project will produce when the project is over and the PM is gone). My checklist (to ensure that I'm thinking about and including in my project plan all the elements within the "system") is generally as follows: o Business Processes - Which business processes are being affected by the project? (The Accounts Receivable process? The Customer Service process?) How are the processes measured to ensure they are successful? How is success defined? What operating policies (if any) need to change as a result of this project? o Sourcing - Are there any third-parties who are doing part of the work within these processes? (Companies could outsource their legal work to a third-party attorney, for example; or they could outsource their customer service call center to a third-party company.) If these third-parties are part of the process, then they need to be included and involved in your project. o Organization - How are the people who execute the tasks within the processes organized? Who is accountable for the success or failure of the work? Will the staffing levels need to be increased or decreased as a result of this project? Will new jobs need to be defined or existing job responsibilities change as a result of your project? Will the people in the organization need to be trained? Will you need to communicate to them? o Technology - What pieces of technology will be affected by this project? Will any software need to be designed, built, tested? Will software need to be reconfigured as a result of this project? How will the technology be supported and maintained (by the IT department perhaps)? The bottom line for "systems thinking" and Project Management is that you want to think through all the possible effects of your project on processes, policies, the organization, third-party partners, technology, reports, data and just about anything else you can think of. You want to be aware of these effects so that you can think ahead and plan ahead in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. Be careful when someone tells you something like this: "Don't worry about that (or don't worry about them); this is just an IT project." As a PM, it's your job to think through how your project affects ALL elements within a "system," to plan accordingly and to manage stakeholder expectations accordingly. Good luck! P.S. I have taken the liberty of applying Systems Thinking in a Project Management context (based on your question). If you're interested in researching Systems Thinking as a standalone topic, you may want to look into the works of Peter Senge who is a famous champion of Systems Thinking.
Cassandra Originally Answered: What is the system thinking in project management?
The term is 'systems thinking' which is eloquently explained here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_thinking Some people can't help thinking a project manager is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time, but I daresay they have their uses.

Anitra Anitra
The term is 'systems thinking' which is eloquently explained here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_thinking Some people can't help thinking a project manager is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time, but I daresay they have their uses.
👍 90 | 👎 7


If you have your own answer to the question elements of good business plan, then you can write your own version, using the form below for an extended answer.