Systems Theory
and Modelling
Seminars
Introduction
Defining Innovation
Innovation Process
Understanding Goals
Defining Objectives
Managing Indicators
Systems Theory and Modelling
Creativity and Idea Generation
Managing Project Portfolios
Leading Innovation Teams
Managing Results and Knowledge
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
This Lecture
• Open Systems
• General Systems Theory (GST)
• GST Traits
• System Classification
• Systems Analysis and Modelling
• Activity Modelling (IDEFo)
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Reduction vs. Systems
• 1950’s the main approach to
understanding was ‘reductionism’
– divide something into its parts
• Ludwig von Bertalnffy proposed
systems thinking – discover how
something interacts with its
environment
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Open Systems
• All living and many non-living things are
open systems
• Systems theory gives us a way to ‘think
about’ open systems
• Systems theory lays the foundation for
the analysis and modelling of systems
• Systems theory provides an analytical
framework for comprehending dynamic
interrelated operating systems
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Open System
Sense
ENVIRONMENT
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
OPEN
SYSTEM
Response
University – Open System
Policy
Approved Funding
Industry Needs
UNIVERSITY
Students
Funding Requests
New Knowledge
Graduates
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Systems Thinking
• holistic approach to problem
solving
• reflecting on how the organisation
relates to its business environment
and
• how factors in the environment
can affect the organisation
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Definition of ‘System’
“... an identifiable, complex dynamic
entity composed of discernibly
different parts or subsystems that
are interrelated to and
interdependent on each other and
the whole entity with an overall
capability to maintain stability and
to adapt behaviour in response to
external influences” [Webster’s]
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
General Systems Theory
• Science of understanding open systems
theory
• GST provides a framework to study open
systems
• GST is not too general nor too specific
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Boulding’s Explanation
“Somewhere … between the specific
that has no meaning and the
general that has no content there
must be, for each purpose and at
each level of abstraction, an
optimum degree of generality”
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Beckett’s explanation
"The trust of general systems .. is to
draw attention to the study of
relationships of parts to one
another within the wholes”
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
GST Traits
• Systems …
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
are Goal Seeking
are Holistic
have Hierarchy
have Inputs and Outputs
transform inputs into outputs
consume and/or create Energy
are affected by Entropy
have Equifinality
have Feedback
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Goal Seeking
All open systems must have goals
 There are two types
 Inner directed goals
 Outer directed goals
 Design strategies are typically “outer
directed” goals
 Maintenance strategies are an “inner
directed” goal

© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
SUB
SUB
SYS TEM
Holistic
SYS TEM
SUB
Bo und ry
SUB
SYS TEM
SYS TEM
SUB
SYS TEM
SUB
SYS TEM
SUB
• Fredrick Hagel (1770-1831)
– The whole is more than the
sum of the parts
– The whole determines the sum
of the parts
– The parts cannot be
understood if considered in
isolation from the whole
– The parts are dynamically
interrelated and
interdependent
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
SYS TEM
Hierarchical
WHOL E
SYS TEM
PL ANT LEV EL
MOR E GENERA L
SUB
SUB
SYS TEM
DEP ARTME NT LEVE L
SYS TEM
SUB
SYS TEM
SYS TEMS
CEL L LEV EL
WORKS TATION LE VEL
SUB
SUB
MOR E D ETAIL
SYS TEM
SYS TEM
PROCESS LE VEL
SUB
SYS TEM
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Transform Inputs into Outputs
INPUT
ERR OR
FE EDBAC K
INPUT
TRA NSFORM
OUT PUT
INPUTS T O
OUT PUTS
INPUT
OUT PUT
TRA NSFORM
INPUTS T O
OUT PUTS
INPUT
STA TUS FEE DBACK
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
OUT PUT
Entropy
• A measure of the amount of disorder in
a system
• Everything disintegrates over time
• Negative entropy or centropy
• Effects of entropy are offset by the
system transforming itself continuously
• Maintain order through such things as
repairs, maintenance and possibly
growing by importing ‘energy’
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Energy, Equifinality and Feedback
• Systems create/consume energy
– Physical
– Emotional
• Equifinality is the ability for systems to
achieve goals in a number of ways
• This flexibility allows systems avoid the
effects of entropy
• Systems have feedback - feedback can
allow a system to change its direction
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
System Classification
• Checkland's classification
– Natural Systems (ecological
systems, human beings)
– Physically Designed Systems
(bridges, machines)
– Abstract Design Systems
(Languages, Mathematics)
– Human Activity Systems
(Politics, Banking)
– Transcendental Systems
(Beyond knowledge or
comprehension)
• Boulding’s Classification
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Tran sce nde ntal
9
8
So ci al Ogan is atio n
Hu man
7
6
An ima l
5
Ge neti c-soc ie tal
Op en System
4
3
Cybern etic s
2
Cl oc kwo rks
1
Frame works
Boulding’s Classification
•
Frameworks
–
•
Clockworks
–
•
intelligence gives the human system the ability to think about the future, its
goals, and how to reach them.
Social organisation
–
•
mobility, self-awareness, and goal orientation-highly complex
Human system
–
•
exchange information with other subsystems
Animal system
–
•
elementary forms of life interact with their environment in order to change their
behaviour
Genetic-societal systems
–
•
elementary closed systems with feedback (e.g. thermostats)
Open system
–
•
timing mechanisms (e.g. self winding clocks)
Cybernetics
–
•
static structures (e.g. camshaft, skeleton, formal company organisations, rock)
organisations which have their own combined goals, needs
Transcendental,
–
all other systems not yet comprehended
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Conclusions
• Views of GST are universal
• GST combats ‘isolationist’ tendencies among
engineers, systems analysts, business
analysts, IT specialists, etc. etc.
• GST offers a framework for understanding all
systems
• Benefits of GST to design of systems are
significant
• Theory of GST lays at the foundation of much
new thinking in - including ‘Learning
Organisations’, ‘Structured Analysis’,
‘Sociotechnical Design’ and ‘Strategic Planning’
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
5 minute break!
• Open Systems
• General Systems Theory (GST)
• GST Traits
• System Classification
• Systems Analysis and Modelling
• Activity Modelling (IDEFo)
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Systems Analysis
and Modelling
Modelling
• Represent existing and future
systems
• Models are in-complete
• Various models represent different
perspectives and levels of abstraction
• Modelling techniques should be selected
to enhance communications between
designers and users
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Perspectives
Managing Director
Accountant
Manufacturing
Manager
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Manufacturing
Engineer
Supervisor
Software
Engineer
Techniques
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
IDEFo
• Background
• Activity Modelling
• Cell Modelling
• Hierarchical Decomposition
• Principles of IDEFo
• IDEFo Approach
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Background
• IDEFo is an activity or process modelling
technique
• Developed through US AirForce R&D
• Basic idea: Adopt a common language for all
designers
• Original ideas by Ross and his SADT technique
• Sister languages
– IDEF1x used for data structure modelling
– IDEF2 used for dynamic modelling (simulation)
– Etc.
• http://www.idef.com
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Cell Modelling
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Cell Modelling
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Cell Modelling
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Hierarchical Decomposition
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Arrows
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
ICOM Codes
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Boundary Arrow Correspondence
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Tunnelled Arrows
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Modelling Demonstration
• Choose an activity!
• Choose purpose and viewpoint!
• Creating the A-0 diagram
• Creating the A0 diagram
• Creating the A-1 diagram
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Node Index and Tree
•
A0 Manufacture Product
– A1 Plan For Manufacture
•
•
•
•
A11
A12
A13
A14
Identify Manufacturing Methods
Estimate Requirements, Time, Cost to
Develop Production Plans
Develop Support Activities Plan
– A2 Make and Administer Schedules and Budgets
•
•
•
•
A21
A22
A23
A24
Develop Master Schedule
Develop Coordinating Schedule
Estimate Costs & Make Budgets
Monitor Performance To Schedule & Budget
– A3 Plan Production
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Principles of IDEFo
• Cell Modelling Graphic Representation
– Boxes-and-arrows show graphically all activities in a
system
• Conciseness
– Two dimensional ‘structured’ diagrams and text provide
concise detail
• Communication
– Simple boxes and arrows, limitation of detail, structured
presentation of information
• Rigor and Precision
• Methodology
– Step-by-step approach
• Organisation versus Function
– Separation of organisation from function
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Rigor and Precision
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Detail exposition control (no more than six boxes)
Limited context (no omissions or unnecessary detail)
Diagram interface inter-connectivity
Data structure connectivity (through parenthesis)
Uniqueness of labels and titles
Syntax rules for graphics
Inputs are separate from controls
Data arrow labelling requirements
Minimum control of function
Purpose and viewpoint
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
IDEFo Methodology
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Select a viewpoint and purpose
Limit the subject matter
Create a top level diagram (A-0, one box only)
Create a context diagram (A-1, if necessary)
Create AO diagram (A0, two to six boxes)
Create subsequent diagrams, text and glossary
Review material and check for purpose and viewpoint
Additional pointers
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–
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Avoid trivial activities and flows
Limit necessary detail at each level
Group related arrows and activities to simplify detail
Be clear, precise and consistent
Think control and not flow
Delay the addition of detail
If in doubt incoming flows should be controls
Annotate as you develop each diagram
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Sample
• See course notes on 'Enterprise
Modelling'
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Summary
• Open Systems
• General Systems Theory (GST)
• GST Traits
• System Classification
• Systems Analysis and Modelling
• Activity Modelling (IDEFo)
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
Online Assignment
• Develop an IDEFo model for your
organisation
• Produce A-0, A0, and A-1 diagrams
– Graphics plus Description Text
• Upload model into ‘Models’ web
part
© David O’Sullivan, NUI Galway
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Systems Theory