Simple-Open System Model.html

Simple-Open System Model

An open system is any biological or social unit that receives input, transforms it, and produces output. If your organization was a closed system, it would not receive any input from the external environment. It would be completely self-sustaining. However, every organization takes in some type of input (e.g., resources), transforms it (e.g., processes), and produces output (e.g., products or services). Take a moment and think about your organization. What are its inputs? How does it transform them? What are its outputs?

To explore organizational behavior in detail, the simple systems model can be expanded to recognize that organizations are composed of many different components. For example, look around any organization and you might see people, formal statements describing the goals and strategies of the company, different technologies, and various activities. In other words, the action of "transforming" input into output involves many different elements. In addition, organizations exist within a specific environment (a market, a community, etc.) and a general environment (e.g., broader national or global context). These environments exert their own influence on the organizational system.

A helpful exercise for any work-team, unit, or organization can be drawing “itself” on paper, a whiteboard, or a computer screen. What are the resources or inputs that come into the organization? What are our processes, policies, structures, technologies, and human elements that transform those inputs? What is our output?

Perhaps most importantly, does everyone on the team have the same ideas about our inputs and output? Do they have the same view about what we do to transform one to the other?

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