Management Yesterday and Today

When identifying unit process inputs and outputs, try to talk with employees working with those processes. However, while these employees will give good information, some inputs and waste outputs may be overlooked because they are too familiar with the process. Talk to other employees and, perhaps more importantly, walk around the business premises and take a good look. For every input, there must be a corresponding output. Make sure that there is an output for each input to a unit process. If there is a weight change in a raw material or product, account for the difference and make sure it is included in the input/output diagram. Remember all wash water, atmospheric emissions, dust and any pollution. Balancing inputs and outputs is a useful method of tracking down waste outputs that may otherwise be overlooked.

On the other hand, system in supermarkets depend on employees, suppliers, customers and even the competition for research, development and profit. Because the business doesn’t have control af all the environmental forces, it relies on predictions and contingencies to cope with unempected input. During the 1960s, researchers began to analyse organisations from a systems perspective, a concept taken from the physical sciences. A system is a set of interrelated and interdependent parts arranged in a manner that produces a unified whole. The two basic types of systems are closed and open. Closed systems are not influenced by, and do not interact with, their environment. In contrast, open systems dynamically interact with their environment. Today, when we describe organisations as systems, we mean open systems. An organization takes in inputs (resources) from the environment and transforms or processes these resources into outputs that are distributed into the environment. The organisation is ‘open’ to, and interacts with, that environment (Robbins, Stagg, Bergman & Coulter, 2008, p. 52).

System researchers envisioned an organisation as being made up of ‘interdependent factors, including individuals, groups, attitudes, motives, formal structure, interactions, goals, status, and authority’. What this means is that managers coordinate the work activities of the various parts of the organisation and ensure that all the interdependent parts of the organisation are working together so that the organisation’s goals can be achieved. For example, the systems approach would recognise that, no matter how efficient the production department might be, if the marketing department does not anticipate changes in customer tastes and work with the product development department in creating products customers wants, the organisation’s overall performance will suffer (Robbins, Stagg, Bergman & Coulter, 2008, p. 52).

In addition, the systems approach implies that decisions and actions taken in one organisational area will affect others, and vice versa. For example, if the purchasing department does not acquire the right quantity and quality of inputs, the production department will not be able to do its job effectively (Robbins, Stagg, Bergman & Coulter, 2008, p. 53). Finally, the systems approach recognises that organisations are not self-contained. They rely on their environments for essential inputs and as sources to absorb their outputs (Robbins, Stagg, Bergman & Coulter, 2008, p. 53).

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