Friday, May 10, 2013

SYNERGY : 1+1 = 11

1+1 = 11

The Systems Approach
A Primer

The Systems approach is primarily a philosophy [called Synergism] that coordinates in an efficient and optimal manner the activities and operations pertaining to any entity which qualifies to be designated a “System”. 

Now the entity may be tangible or intangible, animate or inanimate, human or mechanical.

This synergistic systemic effect is epitomized in Aristotle’s classic and immortal statement: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

A System is a set of interdependent components [sub-entities] that create a whole Entity.

Whilst browsing through my bookshelves I came across an “ancient” notebook and found something interesting on “The Necessary Conditions for an Entity [S] to be conceived as a System”.

1.   S is Teleological – This means that every system has a purpose.

2.   S has a Measure of Performance [MOP]

3.  There exists a client [or customer] whose interests are served by S in such a manner that the higher the MOP the better the interests are served.

4.   S has teleological components which co-produce the MOP of S. This means that a System may have sub-systems.

5.   S has an environment which also co-produces the MOP of S.

6.   There exists a decision maker who via his resources can produce changes in Measures of Performance of the components of S [sub-systems] and hence changes in MOP of S.

7.   There exists a designer who conceptualizes the nature of S in such a manner that the designer’s concepts potentially produce actions in the decision maker and hence changes in the Measures of Performance of the S’s components [sub-systems] and hence changes in the MOP of S.

8.   The designer’s intention is to change so as to maximize the value of S to the client [user or customer].

9.   S is stable with respect to the designer in the sense that there is a built-in guarantee that the designer’s intention is ultimately realizable.

This leads us to the Sufficient Conditions or the System Trinity: 



3. CLIENT ( USER or CUSTOMER, like in the CATWOE Model )

If an entity is to be considered a System it must meet the following sufficient conditions:

1.  The entity has a User [Client or Customer] who is interested in the performance of the entity.

2.  The entity has a Decision-Maker who affects the performance of the entity by controlling its resources.

3.  The entity has a Designer whose preferences are in conformance and in harmony with the client’s (user’s) preferences and the designer designs the system so that it can be operated by the Decision-maker.

4.   The Designer wishes to maximize the benefits to the Client (User).

5.   The System is capable of executing the Designer’s plans.

Now after reading this gobbledegook (or is it gobbledygook?) please don’t ask me what is a System.

Well I will put it simply – in a System 1+1 equals more than 2, say, 1+1 = 11 or even more.

That’s the concept of Synergy or Synergism so aptly expressed by Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

You can now examine any entity and see whether it is a system, and if not, how to transform and dovetail it into a system, so that you can apply the systemic approach and system concepts to the entity.

Look around you and observe various entities, tangible and intangible – your workplace organisation, your school, college or university, your car, your bank, your house, your family, your relationships, and see whether they satisfy the necessary and sufficient conditions for an entity to be considered a system.  

Now I’ll ask you a question – Do you think “Marriage” is a System?


Not to worry – just see whether your concept of Marriage satisfies the necessary and sufficient conditions for an entity to be considered a system.

Let’s start with the first necessary condition – Does marriage have a purpose?

Yes? No? I do not know?

Now let us go to the next question - What is the Measure of Performance (MOP) of a marriage?

Try to think about it. 

And then answer all the 5 questions.

Now tell me - Is Marriage a System” ?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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