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250 words apa style 2 references Review Alexander the Great case study, located in the read section: Post what you believe to be the one primary reason behind the triumph of Alexander the Great.
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Systems
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Practice
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Unit
7
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Equifinality
Unit Five
Equifinality
Introduction to Equifinality
The second principle of systems theory is the concept of equifinality.
Organizations are open systems.
Equifinality proposes that, in an open system,
multiple paths areSavailable to reach the same end.
A
An organization should first design its system,
N
then build the structure to support it.
D
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S System
Understanding the Definition of a Closed
,
In a closed system, as Bertalanffy (1968) notes, “the final state is
unequivocally determined by the
R initial conditions: e.g., the motion in a
planetary system where the positions of the planets at a time t are
O
unequivocally determined by their positions at time t0.” (p.40). In other
N mere formulas and do not truly exist.
words, closed systems are basically
N
In a closed system, once relationships
are defined and identified,
future responses can be exactly
Y predicted. This is because closed
systems are made distinct by their inaccessibility to external influences. Truly closed systems do7 not occur naturally. Intervention is necessary in order to exclude or prevent the external influences or forces from
7
affecting internal structures. Whoever controls the system is able to
1
exclude external forces and therefore
artificially limit the options avail6 no real choices or decisions; the limitaable. In closed systems, there are
tion of alternatives is part of the
B definition of the closed system. The
inputs are controlled and the relationships
are defined by the limited
U
range of inputs. Therefore, the outputs of the system are determined as
well. The sidebar on this page gives an example of mathematics as a
closed system.
5.2
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
Unit Five
Equifinality
Modern Organizations as Open Systems
Realistically, modern organizations are open systems
that influence, and are influenced by, their environments. In open systems, Bertalanffy states that “the
same final state may be reached from different
S initial
conditions and in different ways” (p. 40). From an orgaA
nizational standpoint, in order to be effective, the organization must have the ability to evaluate theNrelative
D goals
opportunities available to reach organizational
(Drazin & Gresov, 1997).
E
R
Efficiency
presupposes
effectiveness;
efficiency is the
accomplishment
of objectives using
the minimum
number of
resources.
Alternatives exist in open systems. BecauseSthe range
of influences is not controlled, the actors within the
,
system have the opportunity to make choices. The choices the actors (managers)
within the system have the opportunity to make vary depending upon the ability of the
R and the external forces acting upon the
actors to manipulate the inputs to the system
transformation process.
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Y
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A key element in the determination of the
alternatives available is the ability of
managers to identify a range of possible
options within the context of the mission.
5.3
The ability of managers to manipulate
the outputs of the system is a function
of the inputs available, the extent to
which the managers have control over
the inputs, and the knowledge, skills
and abilities of the mangers.
Managers are usually able to identify
one or two possible courses of action.
In many cases, that is as far as they
progress. There may be many other
options available and some of those
options may well be superior to the
option first identified. Managers must
use creative thinking to identify as
many possible options in the time
available. In most cases, it is
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
Unit Five
Equifinality
impossible to identify all of the possible alternatives. Further, it is not necessary
to develop a list of alternatives so lengthy as to be impossible to evaluate. The
manager must be efficient and effective in the evaluation of how resources are used
in order to achieve the organization’s objectives.
Effectiveness and Efficiency
To be
effective is
to simply get
the job done.
To be efficient is to
S
be effective with the
A
utilization of fewer
N
resources.
D
E
A useful example of the difference between effectiveness
and efficiency can be
R
found in the game of golf. The objective of the game is to move the golf ball from
S
the tee to the hole using as few swings as possible. An effective golfer gets from the
tee to the hole. However, the effective golfer ,is not concerned about the number of

strokes necessary. The effective golfer’s concern is only to reach the hole. It could
take two swings or ten R
swings; the number does not matter.
However, in scoring
O golf, the number of contacts between
the ball and the
N player’s club does count. This introduces the concept of efficiency. An efficient golfer
N
uses the minimum number of strokes necessary
to moveYfrom the tee to the hole.
7 significance of this concept is directThe
7 ly related to the overall organization1 al performance. Nothing less than
the survival of the organization
6
is at stake here. Simply
B
stated, the long term
U
survival of any organization depends on
its continuous
ability to become
more efficient.
5.4
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
Unit Five
Equifinality
Opportunity Cost
A common definition of economics
describes it as a study of scarcity. This
view is built around the fact that
human wants and needs are unlimited
while various resources are limited.
Hence, economics is the study of how to
best allocate the scarce resources to
best satisfy the unlimited wants and
needs. One of the foundational concepts
in economics is the concept of opportunity cost.
All effective alternatives
should be evaluated
and the most efficient
one implemented.
Defining Closed Systems:
What is half of eight?
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Selection of the best alternative means
that other alternatives are not selected.
Economists call this the opportunity
7
cost of the alternative selected. The
opportunity cost is the value that
7
would have been received if the next
best alternative were chosen. To select 1
one alternative, and miss other alterna- 6
tives, actually does cost the organization B
money. The efficiency of the organization can be measured in terms of the U
opportunity costs it incurs.
5.5
The most obvious answer is four.
This is the answer one would
expect within the laws of mathematics.
Mathematics is the ultimate
closed system where relationships are defined and outcomes
are exactly predicted. External
influences artificially limit the
options and restrict the chosen
path. To follow the applied rules
of mathematics means that predictably:
half of eight is four.
Now remove the restrictions of
mathematics and consider the
question. Look through the lense of
spatial relationships. Half of eight
can now be
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
three
or even
zero….
Profiles of Great Organizers of Productivity
er steps: bending to pick up the bar,
picking up the bar, walking on level
Frederick
ground to the ramp, walking up the
Winslow Taylor
ramp, and dropping the iron into the
car. As Taylor analyzed Schmidt, he
The Search for the
realized that the process could be
Ultimate Efficient
refined to move more iron with less
Solution
effort. Initially, Schmidt was reluctant to
cooperate with Taylor’s suggestions.
SThen Taylor hit upon the second compoFrederick Winslow Taylor combined sev- Anent of his revolutionary theory: workeral innovative ideas about the creation Ners must be motivated to improve proof efficient work systems into a unique
Dductivity through a paradigm shift in
and ultimately revolutionary theory
their perception of management’s role in
about the mechanism necessary for the Ethe work process from adversary to felRlow collaborator. In order to accomplish
identification of the “one best way” to
perform a particular task. Taylor termed Sthis shift, he used an existing idea,
his revolution “scientific management”
, piecework (payment per unit produced)
and became the leading management
to motivate workers. Schmidt’s initial
consultant of his time.
resistance faded when he realized that
Rhe could make more money with less
Taylor, trained as an engineer, began
Oeffort using Taylor’s improvements in
his career as a common laborer at the
Nthe work process.
Midvale Steel Company. He progressed
to a management position and began to NTaylor’s emphasis on observation,
Yanalysis, and redesign of the work
experiment with different methods of
increasing productivity. Taylor concludprocess became an essential part of
ed, after considerable observation and
7 modern quality improvement processes.
analysis, that the secret of increasing
Taylor was the first to present a sysproductivity lay in finding the right chal- 7 tematic study of interactions among job
lenge for each person, then paying well 1 requirement, tool, methods, and human
for increased output. Pay the person,
6 skill, to match people and jobs both psynot the job. His most famous experiment
Bchologically and physically. In so doing,
involved a worker named “Schmidt”
he let data and facts do the talking. The
Ubasic ideas incorporated in total quality
who loaded bars of pig iron onto a car
to be transported into the mill. Taylor
management and Six Sigma programs
observed Schmidt as he worked, picking
trace back to Taylor’s work in scientific
up a bar of iron from a pile, carrying it
management.
to the car, and walking back to the pile.
He further broke the process into small-
5.6
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
Profiles of Great Organizers of Productivity
HEWLETT
PACKARD
In 1939, Hewlett-Packard was a
tiny California company operating
out of its owners’ garage. As the
U.S. government geared up to fight
World War II, the demand for electronic equipment to support the
war effort expanded what had
been a very small market into a
larger and larger part of the
national economy. HewlettPackard, operating in Palo Alto,
grew its business as a War
Department contractor.
S
A
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Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett in 1981
D
E
Rwith manufacturing plants in
SColorado and Pennsylvania.
, Hewlett-Packard continued to
grow as a global organization dur-
Hewlett-Packard’s first product:
an audio oscillator
Ring the 1970s. As one of the first
Ofirms to explore a joint venture in
NChina, Hewlett-Packard’s vision
Nwas rewarded in 1985 with the
establishment of China HewlettYPackard, a pioneering effort in
China’s gradual opening to exter-
7 nal firms and economic reform.
7 Hewlett-Packard’s leadership in
In the 1950s, Hewlett-Packard
expanded into the post-war econo- 1
my through the introduction of
6
non-defense products. In 1958,
B
Hewlett-Packard opened its first
U
global office in Geneva,
Switzerland and a plant in
Germany. This was followed in
1963 by a joint venture in Japan
and further expansion in the U.S.
5.7
Introduced in 1968, the world’s
first Desktop scientific calculator
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
Profiles of Great Organizers of Productivity
Hewlett Packard (continued)
research and development in the
U.S. was matched by efforts in
Germany (a breakthrough, noninvasive fetal heart monitor), the
United Kingdom (the first e-mail
system) and Japan (the
first Japanese character calculator). HewlettPackard became a $1
billion company in 1977.
As the personal computer
market exploded in the
1980s, Hewlett-Packard kept
pace. By the end of the decade,
Hewlett-Packard stock traded not
only in the U.S., but on the Tokyo
stock exchange as well. Sales
topped $11 billion and HewlettPackard’s labor force globally
reached toward 100,000 employees.
By the end of the next decade,
Hewlett-Packard spun off Agilent
Technologies, keeping the computing and computing related busi-
5.8
ness units. Agilent
Technologies, a multibillion dollar company, continued the
Hewlett-Packard tradition by establishing
two Chinese ventures
within the first five
years of its existence.
S
A
N
Hewlett itself continD
ued
to expand
E
its global presence
R
by opening a high-techSnology center in
, Moscow, establishing
and maintaining a
Rcontract with the
OBank of India, and
Noperations in over
170 countries.
N
Y
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6
B
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Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
Profiles of Great Organizers of Productivity
Nothing but blue skies…jetBlue, that is
JetBlue not only values its passengers, it
rewards its crews as
well. At Morris Air,
Neeleman created
“homesourcing.” In the homesourcing
model, 400 of JetBlue’s ticketing reservaStion agents work 25 hours per work from
their homes. The vast majority of
AJetBlue’s reservation agents are stay-atNhome mothers and Mormons (as is
JetBlue’s true origin dates back to 1993, DNeeleman). As a personal value,
when CEO David Neeleman sold his first ENeeleman believes that society will be
better off if more mothers are able to stay
airline, Salt Lake City Air, to Southwest
R
at home with their young children but
Airlines. Later, as founder and president
Sstill have a chance to be wage earners.
of Morris Air, another airline originating
in Salt Lake City, Neeleman proved that , At Morris Air, employees took 30% more
high quality service and low fares attract bookings.
a loyal market.
RAll employees of JetBlue participate in
Othe Paid Time Off (PTO) plan that comAfter selling Morris Air to Southwest in
1993 for $130 million, Neeleman
Nbines vacation, sick leave, and holidays
launched a successful Canadian carrier, Nin a single bank of time. Medical, life,
and disability insurance benefits, a
WestJet, and developed an e-ticketing
Y
401(k) plan and a profit sharing plan
system into Open Skies, the simplest airround out the employee benefit package.
line reservation system. Neeleman sold
Open Skies to Hewlett Packard in 1999. 7JetBlue received the award for Best
In July, Neeleman formed a management 7Domestic Airline and Best Value for Cost
for each of the four years of its operation.
team and with $130 million in capital
1The keys to JetBlue’s success: start with
funding from investors such as Chase
6the best capital in order to be able to
Capital, he announced his next
venture, an airline that
Binvest in the best product, fly new planes
would bring “humanity
Uthat are reliable and fuel-efficient, screen
to hire only the best people,
back to our travel.”
train them well with the
best tools, and focus on
service thus offering customers the best possible
experience.
JetBlue Airways initiated its service with
an inaugural flight between JFK
International Airport and Fort
Lauderdale, Florida on February 11,
2000. The airline now serves 30 cities in
the U.S. and the Caribbean with a fleet of
68 new Airbus A320 planes. It is the only
airline with all-leather seats and each
seat is equipped with 24 channels of
free, live satellite television.
5.9
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
Decisions for Discussion
An Efficient Use of Resources to Accomplish
Organizational Objectives
The Alexander Mosaic
Alexander the Great and Darius:
the Battle of Gaugamela
In October of 331 B.C.E., Darius of Persia appeared
to have all the advantages in his
S
coming battle with Alexander of Macedon: superior information about his opponent,
A to prepare the field of battle in such a
choice of the field of battle, even the opportunity
N machines, not to mention at least a 4way as to maximize the capabilities of his war
to-1 advantage in the number of troops. Yet,Dat the end of the day, Darius had abandoned his army and fled the field of battle. Within
two weeks, he was dead, assassinatE
ed by his own cousin. How did Alexander use the available resources to achieve this
R
surprising outcome?
S
First, Alexander previously developed an excellent
communication network with his
,
commanders. Second, Alexander used the smaller size of his army as an asset, leveraging the communications advantage of a smaller, more closely associated group.
Beyond the senior commanders, Alexander’sRarmy, although smaller than Darius’ (estiO 40,000 and Darius’ at 200,000 to
mates place Alexander’s forces at approximately
250,000), was organized into highly trained N
and well-disciplined units. The phalanxes,
or rows of troops armed with 18-foot spears,Nprevented opposing troops from attacking
with their much shorter swords. The phalanxes were the core of Alexander’s battle line
and because of them, a direct assault on theYcenter of Alexander’s army presented an
extremely difficult challenge. Darius’ infantry was organized along conventional lines
and therefore, spread out and did not have 7
successive rows of troops to move forward
while engaged.
7
1
Alexander lined his troops
up on Darius’ left flank, and as the
battle began, Darius 6
was forced to move his forces further to the
left, thus diluting theBadvance of his superior numbers.
Alexander arranged his
U troops so that the full capability of his
phalanx units was screened by his infantry. After a brief initial
engagement, Alexander’s troops broke off the attack deliberately
Alexander
and fell back. When Darius’ forces pursued, they faced the
strongest units of Alexander’s army. Alexander’s other infantry units still waited, not
engaged in the battle, as Darius committed more of his forces against the enemy
immediately in front. As Alexander committed more of his cavalry on Darius’ left,
Darius was forced to continue to move to the left in order to avoid being flanked.
5.10
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
After Darius fully committed his forces, Alexander still retained a
significant proportion of his best men. As Darius’ army stretched
further to the left, Alexander formed his available, and still fresh
troops into a wedge and drove toward the weakest section of
Darius’ line: the center. As Darius’ army began to withdraw in
disorder, Alexander’s forces pressed forward. Darius fled the battle and left his troops in disarray, open to the advances of
Alexander’s army.
Darius
At the conclusion of the battle, Darius’ army suffered losses of at least 40,000 dead
and many more wounded. Alexander’s losses were placed at approximately 500 dead.
Alexander’s ability to deploy the available resources in an effective manner against a
significantly stronger (at least in numerical S
terms) opponent provides a demonstration
of the principle of equifinality. Many means exist to achieve the same the end; the
A
manager who is able to use the minimum amount of resources to achieve the organizaN organization.
tional objective produces the most value to the
D
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Discussion Questions:
1. Would you say that Alexander was effective,
efficient, or both? Why?
,
2. How did Alexander’s strategy prevent Darius from using his resources in a more
efficient manner?
R
3. Put yourself in Darius’ position. Based on the description above, how could you
O
make your army more efficient?
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Y
Summary
There are alternate routes to7 reaching any desired
7
outcome.
Managers should explore 1
such routes and adopt
6
the most efficient alternative
to accomplish the
desired outcome.
B
Equifinality is the foundational
concept for
U
• Process of continuous improvement (Kaizen)
• Practice of benchmarking

5.11
Long term survival of any organization depends
on its continuous improvement efforts.
Systems ~n~ Practice Online – Unit Five: Equifinality
This is a copy of the online form you will fill out in
the COMPLETE section of this unit’s coursework.
THE MISSION IS DIVIDED INTO MAJOR GOALS
MAJOR GOALS ARE DIVIDED INTO OBJECTIVES
OBJECTIVES ARE ACCOMPLISHED BY PROCESSES
PROCESSES ARE SEQUENTIAL STEPS OF WORK
ACTIVITIES, DESIGNED TO ACCOMPLISH OBJECTIVES
Identify a process that you perform regularly to fulfill the objectives of your
position. Trace and list the specific steps that make up the process below:
Name of Process:
Now List the Steps:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
S
A
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D
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S
,
R
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7
7
1
6
B
U
12.
5 …
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