Individual methodologies can then be integrated into the whole by uncovering a shared vision and engaging in team learning. The shared vision helps collate various personal visions and align them with the overall vision and direction of the organization. An organization has to have a unifying vision and direction. Without such a vision, it degenerates into a loose connection of individuals who simply banded together because of convenience. A shared vision, however, can unite the organization and set its directions. A shared vision is one in which the members of the organization have contributed to.
It is not the result of one man’s musing or imposition. Rather, it is a deliberate attempt to look at the common thread in the organization and how that can be used to further the health and situation of the organization. The shared vision will become the embodiment of the ideals and the direction of the whole organization. Because of this, it is of utmost importance for the shared vision to be understood and imbibed by every member of the organization. Otherwise, the accomplishment of the shared vision will be affected. Individual learning helps individuals learn about the processes in the organization.
It is team learning, however, that enables the whole organization to benefit together from the learning opportunities. Individuals learn individually. While some individuals may have higher capacity for learning, if such learning is not shared with the others, then its impact will be limited. But if the learning process is in the context of a team, then the individual learning will be magnified and contextualized depending on the needs of the organization and of the individuals. The learning will be richer and will be more relevant to the situation of the organization. These methodologies actually work great.
But if they are not integrated into the system, then the impact will not be as strong. Hence, systems thinking therefore grants the members and the leaders of the organization to explore meaningful inputs, process these inputs and then reap the output. The whole system will be benefit by this kind of approach and nothing is left behind in the system. Jackson’s Creative Holism for managers also draws into the systems thinking methodology and argues for the need of a holistic approach in management. He not only advocated for a holistic approach. Rather, he advocated for creative holism.
Jackson’s view of systems, however, takes into account the developments in systems thinking and methodology in the past few years. In a manner of speaking, his is a more informed view of the systems thinking methodology. He advocates the active use of the imagination and of creativity in thinking about systems. This is what separates him from Senge’s work. His reliance on creativity and imagination helps the systems thinking student employ non-traditional means of looking at an organization. Jackson seems to be challenging convention by allowing systems theory to be used without the over technical and rigid way of other thinkers.
He traced the development of systems thinking in terms of philosophy and the emergence of a number of contemporary means of looking at a particular issue. Hence, with creative holism, there is a chance for every member of the organization to contribute to the improvement of the whole organization. The discourse of diversity as well as creativity therefore seeped into systems thinking discussion. With his creative holism approach, Jackson explored how there could be a Total Systems Intervention in an organization.
Such a creative holism indeed helps the managers of organizations look at all the important aspect of the system to enhance operations and make it more efficient and effective. Senge identified five methodologies, which are, more or less, bound up with the more traditional aspects of management. Jackson, on the other hand, allowed some deviation if done in the name of creativity and holism (Jackson, 2003, pp. 266-273). The approach of Jackson also enabled pluralism, which was complementary to the efforts of managers to initiate change into the system.
While some systems methodologies may advocate a bottom-up approach, Jackson proposed a holism that integrated the efforts of managers as well as that of rank and file employees. On a deeper analysis, the systems thinking approach of Senge and Jackson may not be very different but rather Jackson’s is the logical continuation of Senge’s approach.
Reference Birnbaum, R. (2001). Management Fads in Higher Education: Where they Come From, What they Do, Why they Fail. London: Routledge. Checkland, P. B & Hanes, M. G. (1994). Varieties of systems thinking: The case of soft systems methodology. Systems Dynamics Review, 10 (2-3), 189-197.