On the 25th of March, the first lecture this year by Robert A. Sedlák was held in Shanghai. It began with a group work based on the content of the last lecture (we reported on 11/25/2014).

The students worked on the question:

Please describe an organization in the sense of the Newer System Theory and name its relevant environments as well as their mutual expectations.

It was delighting to see how dedicated the students were working on the task. During the discourse the teams worked out that it is important for an organization to identify its relevant environments and to substantiate their specific requirements and expectations. In this context it became clear which risks are associated with the selection and how organizational blindness can lead to masking out the relevant environments. Another important point was being discussed: An organization justifies its existence by providing benefits for the environment.

Organizations only have the right to exist, if they create and deliver solutions for their markets, customers, and other important stakeholders.

For observing relevant environments the demarcation between the inside and the outside plays an important role. Considering how and where the borders are demarcated the environments of the system change. The observer decides. On this account, it is important to observe the observer while he or she observes.

If organizations are not receptive to impulses from the outside, important developments cannot be perceived. Examples like Nokia, Kodak, and Agfa were made subject for discussion. During the discussion the question arose, whether the German automobile industry assimilated fundamental developments outside of their world of thought too late and will therefore lose its product leadership. The ability to obverse outside of one’s own radius of action as well as the capability to select in a way that something relevant will also be identified as such, were named as vital organizational competences.

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Because decision-making is the most important communicative event in a system it is of essence that an organization is structured in a way that relevant impulses from the outside can be fed into the communication process. It is for this reason that suitable communication platforms and routines are established to enable Foresighted Self-Renewal.

Highlight of the lecture was ultimately the presentation and reflection of the concept of Foresighted Self-Renewal which describes what organizations can do proactively to keep their competitive edge in the long-run. VARIATION, SELECTION, and RE-STABILIZATION were presented and described as essential elements of the concept. This was followed by a discussion with many good questions that showed the great interest of the students in the topic. For the Fall semester the Requirements and Challenges for International Organizations are on the agenda.

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