Section/# Systems Thinking The of the article put forward the idea that today’s business schools are lacking a fundamental focus on systems thinking; choosing instead to teach other topics and focus exclusively on certain components rather than the broad overarching framework which makes up systems thinking. Furthermore, the authors say that this lack of focus is having detrimental effects in the business world and is responsible for the high turnover rate of top CEOs among other ills. Furthermore, the authors view current business education as being “functionally isolated” and not studied as a single functional entity.
Therefore, the authors put forward three objectives towards better educating business students: 1) promote the teaching and application of systems thinking 2) investigate the role that systems thinking currently enjoys in management decision making 3) provide metrics and goals that will help increase the role that systems thinking enjoys in a business curriculum. In order to prove their claims that students are not receiving adequate systems thinking education in current business schools, the authors draw on a number of sources to expound upon the fact that high turnover rates combined with the improper way in which the freshly graduated students are prepared lends them to be incompatible for understanding the business world and the complex inter-relationships that define it.
Accordingly, a few of the sources they draw upon are Leonard and Beer (1994), Umpleby and Dent (1999), the Harvard Business Review, and a host of other scholarly articles and studies. These factors are each of paramount importance to the student as they will instruct him/her in the overall nature of the business world while at the same time familiarizing him with the nuanced components that make up the bigger picture.
Traditional business classes present the student with a great deal of information and competing theories and/or points of view. As such, systems thinking allows the student a realistic and reasonable framework with which to house all of the information they are accruing without the need to prioritize and decide what information they should retain and what information is not important. Instead, by approaching business curriculum via the systems thinking approach, the student is able to house all of the information they receive under the rubric that in some way, on some level, all of the things they have learned inter-relate and help to define and characterize the business entity as such.
Likewise, due to the fact that business evolves at an ever increasing rate of speed, it only stands to reason that the application of systems thinking will help the candidate to evolve and adapt in a much more rapid fashion that if they were trying to define and explain the business climate through only a handful of incomplete definitions.
As such, understanding the changes in the business world via the umbrella of systems thinking places the student at a decided advantage when it comes to explaining, understanding, and reacting to the forces that will great them upon introduction to the business world. In conclusion, failing to understand the importance of systems thinking is failing to understand the macro and inter-related nature of the business world as such. A tired cliché is “missing the forest for the trees”; yet this is exactly what focusing on the individual components of business theory and the application thereof effect unless one is acutely aware of the way in which everything ties in and is inter-related.
Regardless of the level of agreement or disagreement with regards to business curriculum, the fact remains that once the business graduate enters into the workforce and finds herself faced by the sheer complexity and size of the particular firm/industry/business that she is working for, a full and complete understanding and appreciation for systems thinking is likely to develop.
Work Consulted Atwater, B., Kannan, V., Stephens, A. “Cultivating Systemic Thinking in the Next Generation of Business Leaders”. Academy of Management Learning and Education. 2008. Vol 7 No. 1 pp. 9-25