According to open systems theory, organizations cannot function in complete isolation from one another; none of them is entirely self-sufficient. They constantly interact with the external environment, “acquire inputs, transform them and discharge outputs back to the environment” (Samson & Daft 2009, p.72). In other words, they import energy (human resources, information, or technologies) for their needs and convert them into products. These products can be of various types: consumer goods, new technologies, software, and even solutions for the existing problems. So they may be either material or immaterial. Initially, the open systems approach was applied mostly in biological sciences yet now it is widely used in sociology, management, and pedagogy (Minor, 2006, p 195). This paper aims to evaluate the effectiveness of our group according to the open systems model. This assessment is based on factual experiences, in particular, the projects and tasks that we have carried out. On the whole, it is quite possible to argue that our team has grown into a very elaborate organization able to act almost independently.
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At first, it is necessary to discuss our group inputs. In this case, the term “inputs” can also be interpreted as those external factors which affect our activities, and relations with one another. This concept includes such components as organizational setting, the nature of our duties, membership characteristics, size, and structure (Wood et al, 2006). On the whole, it is quite possible to argue that our group is only a part of a larger system, an educational institution. The setting might be characterized as formal or semi-formal. The thing is that a college encompasses two major participants, students, and teachers. The relationships in the first group are mostly informal. In turn, the interactions among members of the faculty are more official. Certainly, our group comprises only learners i.e. students, so we tend to be more informal. As an open system, our team is not secluded from the rest of the student body. The membership is accessible to practically every person who wishes to collaborate with us. The only criterion is the level of competence and ethical values. At present, the group consists of fifteen people but the exact size is not fixed. The tasks might be exploratory and creative (or a combination of both), which means that on the one hand, we heavily rely on informational resources or on the work of others, but at the same time, we must create something new, innovative or original. For example, during this course, we worked together in order to identify and resolve the problems, faced by various companies or firms. The whole process can be subdivided into several phases: a collection of data, analysis, and synthesis. This is the most peculiar feature of our activities.
The second component of the open systems model is the processes within the organization. We may single out the following aspects: the development of the team, the norms, the decision-making, and the allocation of duties (Wood et al, 2006). Our group has passed through several stages of formation during this period. At forming or initial stage, there were many conflicts and disputes. Very often we could not agree on some points, especially when we had to carry out the projects consisting of multiple tasks. One of the most crucial obstacles was the allocation of duties and responsibilities. Now, we are at a more advanced level. Our norms and principles are more or less settled. The roles for each participant are clearly defined.
In our group, there are people with marked leadership qualities but their competition only contributes to the success of the group. It is quite difficult to identify the functions of each participant because under some circumstances the same person can act as a manager, coordinator, executive, and creator. For instance, when we needed to make a PowerPoint presentation, one of the team members opted to take charge because he was very versed in this program and possessed a natural flair for design. Naturally, we assisted him, yet he was the main decision-maker. At the very beginning, when we only met we tried to set the norms and principles obligatory for each student. Yet, soon we realized that that declaration would be useless unless each of us realized its beneficence. The key issue is that the rules can be followed only if every partaker admits that they are not imposed from outside; more likely, they are intended to help the team (Heldman, 2003). Unfortunately, we realized this self-evident fact only in the second year of our work.
At this moment, the team is guided by egalitarian principles; this means that each member has a chance to participate in decision-making. Apart from that, our group sets stress on empathy and understanding of other persons needs and problems. We expect that each individual effectively fulfills his or her duties, but we also acknowledge that this person may fail to do it due to some reasons like illness, family problems, or lack of resources. This mutual understanding is our major guideline and value.
The performance of our team is quite difficult to evaluate. On the one hand, each member is assessed individually. Yet, it should be borne in mind, that we are dependent on one another. The mistake of one person can downgrade the efforts of others. Judging from recent assignments, our team has immensely improved its efficiency. First, our projects have been more or less successful. The major points were duly addressed. Secondly, now we can meet or even beat the deadlines set by the instructors. During this period, our team has also become more self-sufficient or autonomous. Almost each of us has developed or acquired new skills; so we seldom require the help of outsiders. This was quite common when during the first year of our cooperation. The thing is that we did not know one another very well, especially about our strengths and weaknesses. Undoubtedly, as with any open system, we are dependent on the external environment, in particular, teachers, informational resources, technologies, and so forth. But this dependence has immensely decreased over these years.
In order to achieve success, the management of any organization (company, federal agency, or even a group of students) has to acknowledge that they have to interact with the external environment. The exact degree of dependence can vary depending on the efficiency of team members. Our group has recently grown into a very elaborate system. We have improved our internal processes, in particular, allocation of tasks, decision-making, and brainstorming. This has eventually made us more autonomous. We have also realized that the success of the team is frequently determined by the separate effort of each individual. Still, it has to be admitted that we still have areas for improvement, namely, communication within the group, especially when we have to work separately from one another.
Heldman. K. 2003. Project management jumpstart. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Minor. J. 2006. Organizational behavior. New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Samson, D & Daft, R. 2009. Fundamentals of Management, 3rd ed. South Melbourne. Cengage Learning Australia.
Wood, J., Zeffane, R., Fromholtz, M., and Fitzgerald, J.(2006). Organisational Behaviour: Core Concepts and Applications. Sydney: John Wiley and Sons Australia.