Systems Thinking In Project Management

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Systems Thinking for Project Management: A theoretical perspective for better understanding of its benefits


A system thinking is a holistic problem solving method in which system behavior emerges from the interaction of system components. The systems thinking, has been intimately connected with the development of OR and management science but limited effort made to integrate project management and system thinking to date. In spite of several developed methodologies, tools & techniques in project management still project fails. This paper aimed to investigate how the use of systems thinking in project management can help projects be more successful. Objectives:To summarize system thinking principles and tools and the criticisms of
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2003). In system study first the system is put as a whole before its all the parts, so that at an higher organizational level the parts’ function, inter-relation and interactions are synchronized properly to serve the purposes of the whole. Systems thinking have its roots in the soft systems methodologies of Checkland and system dynamics analysis methods originated by Forrester (1961).
Some basic concepts of system and its thinking has been summarized from (Forrester 1961, 1971; Richardson 1986; Senge 1990; Sterman 2000; Banathy 1996) as given below.

• Systems can be defined simply as a collection of connected things, that is, a set of elements that influence one another in a organized way to achieve a common goal
• Much of the system structure and the underlying relationships can be depicted graphically using causal loop diagrams. A key benefit of creating causal loop diagrams is to compare the individual’s mental model.
• Behavior of variables within a complex system may be counterintuitive in nature i.e. against the prediction or expectation or goal. Observers may assume that a system is being affected
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The boundary of a system is the scope of interest or concern and can change as the scope of interest changes. The parts of a system inside the boundary interact with each other but also with the environment that exists outside the boundary. The project teams inside the project boundary could have interactions with external stakeholders if they are considered to be part of the environment. In a project the requirements could be considered as inputs that are transformed by the project team into products or services as outputs. A system has structure that defines its parts and their relationships and uses processes or a sequence of activities to perform a function. Project implementation employs structures, processes and activities. Systems are generally open, i.e. they interact with the environment. They are organized by a hierarchy and exhibit emergence. (Sheffield

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