Critical Analysis of the Quotation

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Economics ・APA ・35 Sources

Stakeholders are those who are affected by an organization's operations and actions. They are more concerned with the entity's administration and success. Employees, managers, suppliers, creditors, customers, shareholders, the government, and financial institutions are among these individuals. Furthermore, if there is one factor that determines whether a corporation succeeds or fails, it is decision-making.
The decisions and alternatives made by the management of a sound organization effect the standing, motivation, and productivity of human resources, and thus profitability. Nonetheless, the stakeholders must be involved in the decision-making process of making these decisions. At times, they do not agree on various aspects. That will create a huge problem including scaling down the level of efficiency on both the employees and the entire business (Flood & Carson 2013). A mess is, therefore, a system of challenges with multiple stakeholders who may hold entirely different views of what is feasible and desirable. The paper is thus going to critically appraise this statement about the changing views of strategic thinking.

Introducing Strategy and Systems

The term strategy is commonly used in politics and business to imply to the general idea of executing and doing things. The term originated from the military expeditions of the armies during the first and second world wars. The strategy is thus significant in providing clear and elaborate direction of achieving organizational goals and aims. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word strategy refers to a plan of action developed to facilitate the achievement of a long-term or often overall goals (Grant 2016). On the other hand, a system is defined as a set of resources such as information, facilities, materials, and human capital to achieve a specified course of action.
A system, therefore, contains three major components including the inputs, the transformation process, and outputs. The tree elements are so interrelated such that the quality of one affects the rest (Arnold & Wade 2015). For instance, if the quality of the inputs is inferior, automatically the outputs will exhibit low quality. An organization can hence allocate its resources to all relevant functional areas so as to increase efficiency as well as productivity. Since the needs of customers are varied and diverse, through strategy a business can fulfill all these requirements with the limited resources they have. And this is the most important that having a sound strategy would benefit a firm (Flood & Carson 2013).
An organization that is developing an effective strategy must consider the following: the mission, vision, value statement, SWOT analysis, competitive advantage, scorecard and financial plans. The mission statement is, therefore, a statement that outlines the purpose and aspirations of the organization and what its intentions to perform to achieve them. On the other hand, a vision statement is a little and concise future value supposition. It hence gives an insight into how the company will appear some time from now, in five or ten years. While the SWOT analysis is simply a critical look at the current position of the entity primarily, the opportunities and strengths, it enjoys as well as the weaknesses and the threats facing the company (Arnold & Wade 2015).
Therefore, a strategy is an array of elegant lines of action that an organization intends to use to arrive at the final outlines of the vision statement. Many stakeholders may not agree with everything management puts forward as a strategy. They have varied and mixed reactions as to what would form a successful strategy. However, the courses of action cannot materialize minus the formulation of short-term initiatives to convert the strategies into actionable plans. The organization can as well form teams of people to oversee the accomplishment of the overall goals. These groups are responsible for coming up with reasonable and implementable action plans (Holstius & Malaska 2014).
A system is also a framework that owes its existence on the mutual interaction of its parts. A system is composed of various components and parts which require a mutual interrelationship among them. The systems are either human-made or natural. For the systems to be relevant and efficient to meet the goals of the organization, it has to develop a purpose that defines their actions. Matters on their own in business cannot make sense without the evolution of efficient systems.

Systems thinking; Hard and Soft approaches

The system has been defined as a mutual interaction of the components of a system to ensure that strategies, mission, and goals of an organization are achieved. Thinking, on the other hand, entails the process of critically considering or pondering on something, strategy and thinking are hence closely related as all of them involve the identification of the customer needs, how they can be served or how to deliver value to the clients (Lobos & Partidario 2014).
Systems, in a nutshell, infer to the manner of pondering over as well as a language for understanding and describing the interactions between the various components of a system as well as how they influence the behavior of the same regimes. The discipline opens our insight into the effective management of change in the global business environment. Systems thinking is thus a broad topic that covers system dynamics, critical systems, cybernetics and problem structuring methods (Hodgson & Midgley 2015 & Bandyopadhyay 2015).

Comparing soft and hard systems

Systems thinking inspires the achievement of organizational goals by recognizing and identifying that the behavior of systems is determined by the interactions of the composing elements of the systems than the items are individual. It is also important to recognize that the hierarchy of levels of systems and the emerging ideas of causality between and within different levels of strategy (Ellis et al. 2013). Farag & McDermott (2015) denotes, if the component interactions are not identified and recognized, problems emerge. Therefore, interrelationships between different issues create a mess of challenges. A mess is a network of issues that arise from the availability of multiple stakeholders. The stakeholders also hold varying views of what should be feasible and which is not (Haines 2016).
Soft systems do not provide a straightforward definition of the problem because they are problematic themselves. On the other hand, hard systems establish and define the issues causing problems in a concise and straightforward manner. While the flexible systems explain what to do to solve the problems described, the hard systems give an exclusively elaborate definition of the process to follow to arrive at the solution (Kunze, Wulfhorst & Minner 2016). Additionally, the hard systems provide an implementable solution whereas soft systems emphasize the importance of individual and organizational learning (Hodgson & Midgley 2015).
The hard systems are actual representations of the real world whereas the soft systems identify and formulate models that are meant for allowing people to engage in debate and collectively think through positions. They assign machines and human resources according to the functions they can perform efficiently and comfortably. SST offers an elaborate and detailed way forward for answering the questions related to the real genesis of the problem: who benefits, who participate, the constraints, the regulators as well as the best performance evaluation strategy. The SST philosophy can be developed through three approaches known as Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) Strategic Choice Approach (SCA) and Strategic Options Development and Analysis (SODA) (Williams et al. 2017).
As much as SST is an innovative approach to systems of thinking, it has some of its criticisms. These criticisms include the inability to provide a sound end-product. Moreover, SST requires constant revisiting the stages due to the open-ended-ness of the approach. The language associated with SST can be complicated and therefore impeding and limiting their implementation. However, the Healthy Together Victoria (HTV), an Australian organization successfully applied the systems approach to address and prevent obesity together with other chronic illnesses. The success of this strategy implies that the models of systems thinking can work in the real world. Moreover, the application has been of great importance in boosting sustainable improvement of the health sector (Joyce et al. 2017).

Complex Adaptive Systems

The process of knowing the complexity and integration of all sorts of simplicity in strategy formulation in an organization is what is commonly identified as systems thinking. And that point where a balance is achieved within a set of processes and resources, as well as the harmonization of the dynamism with the external pressures clearly defines the complex adaptive systems. Complexity hence forms an integral part of the systems life-cycle for it aids the optimization of the performance of the component systems (Nair et al. 2016 & Cooke 2013).
Additionally, complexity is not introduced to contradict the suppositions of systems thinking but just as a stage to complement the effectiveness of the latter. Complexity ion a broader sense adds more uncertainty to things that may look and appear beyond our control. The uncertainty can also extend to the implementation of strategies. Therefore, the process of complexity thinking is identified to be producing multiple creative perspectives on various challenges that the organization may face (Foster & Pyka 2014).
Welsh (2014) posits that firms are classified to be consistently evolving, and therefore, scholars have argued that if the organization remains at the equilibrium state, then it is more likely to die than survive. However, steady evolution means that the company will adopt and adjust appropriately to the changes. Complexity in business is thus an important factor in determining the amount of growth or strengthening of a business' ability to handle challenges. Moreover, the new circumstances that face the entity are of advantage (Norberg & Cumming 2013). They are advantageous as they will promote innovation and creativity because the human resources will have to research and develop newer ways of solving the problems the organization will be facing at the time (Mittal 2013).
The general logistics equation presents three major parts, the chaotic, complicated, and complex. The chaotic condition is usually neither understood nor their patterns clearly defined whereas, on the other hand, the complex has regular patterns with no obvious details (Sayama et al. 2013). The complicated contrasts with the compound in that its details are more understood while its patterns cannot get comprehended. Viewing of the organization in either of the categorization is changing the thoughts and perceptions regarding the evolution of the business have to change (Barrientos & de la Mota 2016).
Fradkov, Miroshnik & Nikiforov (2013) suggests that considering all the qualities of the complex adaptive system, it can be directly inferred to as possessing the capacity and ability to adopt, self-adjust to changing conditions. By self-organizing, the system can do its things as well as creating structures devoid of any external influence. However, the reliability of the self-organization characteristics can become tampered with as a result of emergent behaviors which to some extent are out of the control of the business. The dynamism and the complexity of the complex adaptive systems can cause deviation of ideologies in the minds of various stakeholders in the organization hence adding to the mess of problems in the business environment (Obolensky 2014).
The United Nations is a practical example of the application of Complex Adaptive Systems. The CASs received practical use in the formulation and management of the 17 sustainable development goals commonly referred to as Millennial Development Goals (MDGs). The systems are identified to possess the capacity to experience external shocks and appropriately respond to the shocks (Barrientos & de la Mota 2016).

Strategic Thinking in Practice

Jenkins & Fife (2016) state that the business operates in completely diverse and uncertain environments. It consists of various stakeholders who have different expectations that have to be fulfilled by the entity. Moreover, the organization is faced with the problem of resource limitation and the ever-changing operating environment. In a bid to satisfy all the wants and desires of its stakeholders, an organization has to allocate the scarce resources to its functional areas prudently. And in doing so, it has developed systems that will lead to the attainment of that objective. Strategy, in a nutshell, refers to the direction and scope organization will take in the long-run to remain competitive and meet its aims (Tovstiga 2015).
On the other hand, thinking refers to the process of reasoning or thoughtfully considering a situation. Therefore, strategic thinking in business infers to the process of reasoning the best approaches to counter the negatives of changing conditions in the corporate world. The strategy is so much close to thinking because the management of a company has to think over about what are the needs of customers, what are their preferences, how can they be served as well as which strategies will benefit the organization optimally (Johnsen 2015 & Gerwel & Bodhanya 2014).
The diagram below illustrates how organizations apply strategic thinking in practice. Thinking strategies are classified into three broad categories: convergent, divergent, and hybrid. The various categories have tools that can be used to help the company go through the strategic thinking process. The convergent tools include decision trees, SWOT, and task evaluation while hybrid tools include business canvas, Porter's 5 forces, block bursting and the six hats. The process for designing the strategies undergoes three steps namely try, ask, and do.
According to Starr (2016), strategic thinking makes good use of planning and as such identifies that planning is of great significance in ensuring the success of the business. Through planning, the company can assess the competitiveness of its peers and develop counter means. Moreover, top management can easily manage change, through identification of problems before they cause damage. Some problems arise out of ineffective communication within the firm. Poor communication may lead to the reduction of efficiency in the workplace (Crawford, Costa-Gomes & Iriberri 2013).
Segal, Chipman & Glaser (2014) observed that planning could as well solve the resource allocation problem that most organizations face in the contemporary world. It is through the planning process that the company can identify areas of need and concentrate its energy on improving it. It is also possible to prioritize the problem areas or threats and advance tactical decisions that will correct for the anomalies thus increasing productivity through reduced resistance to change (Pagani & Otto 2013).
However, planning may face challenges due to the inability of the management to establish balancing. The administration may fail to appreciate the flexibility of balancing planning. In that respect, making a tradeoff between planning and strategic thinking, the company can achieve higher predictability of its patterns and behavior (Maher & COE 2015 & Moore 2014).
Conflicts are bound to arise in the process of thinking, formulating strategies and implementing them due to the varying expectations of the stakeholders. However, in the spirit of strategic thinking, it is important to embrace conflict when the strategies are implemented. The conflicts should serve as adequate means of evaluating the strength and relevance of the programs undertaken to ensure the success of the business (Tovstiga 2015). Strategic thinking identifies levels of strategy under uncertainties as illustrated in the below diagram.


From the discussions held above, a mess is a system of problems with multiple stakeholders who may hold quite different views of what is feasible and desirable. For instance, strategic thinking gives a wide range of solutions that an organization's management can adopt to gain a competitive advantage over their peers but the shareholders, employees, and creditors may not agree to the solutions advanced. Moreover, the business world is dynamic and ever changing and therefore complex adaptive systems help the firm to be innovative and creative so as to meet the needs of the customers. Every organization fights to remain on top of the industry and to achieve success it has to apply concepts of systems thinking. In conclusion, the statement "a mess is, therefore, a system of challenges with multiple stakeholders who may hold entirely different views of what is feasible and desirable" is true due to the differing ideologies of the stakeholders.


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