Dr Chris Mortimer visited Bahrain between the 24th-27th February to deliver the University of Hull MBA module on Strategic management to Bahrain intake 33 (B33). Strategic management module aims to build a perspective that takes account the business organisation as a whole, its purpose and strategic development, in order to inform managerial decision making.
Organisations as Complex Systems
This module aims to develop an understanding of organisations as complex systems, able to learn and adapt to changing and sometimes chaotic environments. This view of organisations differs from more traditional views that see organisations as something we can fully understand, control and predict. Experienced managers learn very soon that unpredictability, conflict and uncertainty, are more the norm than the exception in organisational life. Nevertheless they learn to manage organisations using traditional management approaches that aim to mitigate the natural complexity, avoid uncertainty and minimize conflict.
Understanding complexity in organisations have important implications for their management: the first one is that we need to look at each problematic situation in a more holistic or systemic way: instead of aiming to classify the nature of the situation using traditional management disciplines (e.g. finances, accounting, strategic management), a systemic methodology will support a more holistic way of analysing and deciding on complex situations. Accepting that there are always multiple and conflict viewpoints, and a varied of ways to find solutions to complex situations is the starting point for dealing with complexity in organisations.
In this module organizations are viewed as complex systems made up of multiple interacting people that not only continuously adapt to the changes around them but also evolve as they learn from the process. Viewing organisations in this way has important implications: in particular it requires us to try to tackle complexity by seeking ‘a whole systems view’ of complex situations we experience in organisations at different times and scales.
To introduce the module’s core theories, the most significant concepts developed by Systems Thinkers, like feedback, 1st and 2nd order learning, self-organisation, emergence, complexity and adaptation; we will learn about the key systems and complexity pioneers; also there will be multiple examples of the key systemic and complexity concepts and consider how they offer insights to traditional management disciplines.
Below is further information on what the MBA students will discuss and gain from the module;
How would one summaries the Strategic Management module?
I am drawn to a famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein: “You cannot change problems created by your old patterns of thought with your old patterns of thought”. This captures the rationale of the Strategic Management module. The 21st-century business environment is littered with examples of failed strategic thinking (I myself have failed several times,) and new approaches are required.
The module will help you to reflect on conventional ways of thinking – ‘the old patterns of thought’ - and to develop new perspectives.
With this in mind, we will be exploring the various concepts, frameworks and theories that have helped – and hindered – managers to date. You will have ample opportunity to share your own experiences; experimenting with the techniques that are learnt with learning environment activities, group work and presentations.
*Taken from the MBA welcome note from the University of Hull Business School.