organizational communication one example of a small business or division within a larger organization as a system

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How are we Doing? The system without feedback

How are we doing? All too often organizations seem closed to the environment around them and do not find out how they are doing until it is too late to implement change. Getting feedback can involve different types of data collection depending on the goals of the system.

Assignment—To get a better understanding of how systems thinking can be applied to an organization, develop a description of a selected small organization or a division of a larger organization such as the communications department, the human relations department or perhaps a training department. Develop your case description with your partner of one such organization or division by describing each component as part of a system.

Part I– Briefly describe one example of a small business or division within a larger organization (300-500 words) as a system.

  1. Environment
    1. Position your system as part of a larger system
    2. Identify any subsystems that are part of the system that you are describing.
  2. Input variables are the raw materials a group uses to do its work; they include such things as information, ideas, resources, members and their attitudes, and so forth.
  3. Output variables
    1. What is the intent, goal or purpose of the system—why does it exist?
    2. What does the system produce; they may be tangible (a report, a policy) or intangible (increased cohesiveness among members or increased self-confidence).
  4. Throughput variables involve how a group functions, what members do with the inputs they receive. Throughput could involve transferring data from one form to another, manufacturing or marketing. Communication is the one key throughput process; by communicating, members make decisions, manage conflict, establish leadership and roles, and do the work of the group.
  5. Open or closed system– Consider where you would place your system on a continuum from open to closed.
    1. Open systems (such as classroom groups) have free interchange between themselves and their environments, with information and resources flowing freely back and forth.
    2. Closed systems (such as cloistered monasteries) do not have such free exchanges. No human system is completely closed.

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