Chapter 9. Systemic Organizational Elements 135
System Thinking
System analysis
through system
thinking
sys·tem \
õ
sis-təm\ n
a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a
unified whole <a number ~>: as (1) : a group of interacting bodies
under the influence of related forces <a gravitational ~> (2) : an
assemblage of substances that is in or tends to equilibrium
<a thermodynamic ~>
(Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 2003, p. 1269)
Roger Kaufman and his associates advocate system thinking in HPT practice.
They view not just the organization itself but also the entire society as
the whole system, and they argue that various elements in the system
should work together to accomplish what both the society and the organiza-
tion value.
Elements in a system are interrelated, rather than independent from each
other. A system analysis is “the
p
rocedure for identifying the elements,
interrelationships, resources, and restraints of the different subsystems”
(Kaufman and Thiagarajan, 1987, p. 129). Therefore, several authors explain
that conducting a system analysis requires system thinking:
System (not systems) thinking looks at the whole, and then the
parts, as well as the relationship and connections among the parts.
It is the opposite of reductionism (that is, the idea that something
is simply the sum of its parts). After all, a collection of parts that
are not connected is not a system. (Kaufman, Oakley-Browne,
Watkins, and Leigh, 2003, p. 60)
These authors point out that system thinking is different from systems
thinking. They explain that system thinking looks at the sum total of parts
that are interdependently working together to achieve their shared goals,
whereas systems thinking focuses on individual subsystems in a system.
However, taking a holistic view of subcomponents in order to achieve the
goal of the entire system is emphasized in both terms.
Interrelated
organizational
elements
This chapter provides an overview of the organizational elements model,
which identifies five elements of a system and the interrelationships among
them. This model is a helpful tool for strategic planning and systemic needs
assessment. To solve systemic problems, long-term systemic solutions shoul
d
b
e sought out (Banathy, 1992). The model can also be used as a systemic
evaluation tool, along with Kirkpatrick’s four-level model of evaluation.
136 Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology
Roger Kaufman’s Organizational Elements Model
Means and ends
Performance technologists use various means in order to achieve desired end-
results. The holistic perspective of a system helps prevent fragmented,
piecemeal types of interventions and accomplishes “worthwhile ends” for all
stakeholders involved. In HPT practice, success largely relies on clearl
y
differentiating means and ends. According to Kaufman (1972, 2000):
Means are what the organization uses and does.
Ends are what the organization produces.
Different end-results occur when the organization selects and utilizes
effective means vs. ineffective means.
Suppose that an engineering consulting company has decided to implement
a
company-wide e-learning project to increase efficiency and effectiveness in
engineers’ learning and performance. As shown in Figure 27, means include
raw materials that the company uses and processes, and ends are the results
that the company will achieve by using the means.
Figure 27. An example of means and ends.

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