Systems thinking as a key attribute of strategic leaders
Academy of State Governance under the President of Uzbekistan
One of the most widespread concepts in theory and practice of strategic management is 'systems thinking'. Paradoxically, being rather an ‘old’ concept, it is increasingly being considered as a ‘new way of thinking’ to understand and manage complex problems of management at both local and global levels. In their 2007 study 'Systems thinking, system dynamics: Managing change and complexity', Maani and Cavana use the analogy of an iceberg to demonstrate a conceptual model of understanding complex systems problems. This model is also known as the Four Levels of Thinking. According to this model, current events or (identifiable symptoms) represent only the visible part of the iceberg above the waterline. Meantime, the majority of managerial decisions often take place at this level. The reason for such ‘quick fix’ actions targeting the symptoms is that it seems to be the easiest way out of complicated situations. This ‘quick fix’ mindset however does not provide efficient long lasting solutions. At the deeper level of thinking, according to this iceberg model, that is hardly ever visible at the surface level, are the ‘mental models’ of individuals and organisations that influence why things work the way they do. Maani and Cavana assert that these mental models reflect the beliefs, values and assumptions that people and organisations hold which influence our methods of taking important decisions. Management experts consider that the third level of thinking is a critical step towards understanding how these mental models can be integrated in a systems structure that reveals how the different components are interconnected and influence each other. So, the systems thinking paradigm integrating these four levels of thinking encourages managers and decision-makers to move from the event level to deeper levels of thinking and providing a systemic framework to deal with complex problems. During our research seminar we will address the specific features of this systems thinking model. Understanding of this model and its application will enhance the chances of the participants of coping with intricate systems issues in their future managerial contexts.
Dr. Sardor Usmanov, Ph.D., is currently lecturing at the Academy of State Governance under the President of Uzbekistan. He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Economics in Prague. He was a diplomacy expert at the Jan Masaryk Centre of International Studies in Prague. Dr. Usmanov is a two-fold laureate of the “Eiffel” Scholarship of Excellence (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France). He is a member of the Garnet Network of Excellence Ph.D. School Alumni Association (Brussels).
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