Reflection Blog Post #3: Fostering an Innovative Organization Using Systems Thinking


In order for an organization to stay current and viable in the changing economic and global landscape, it is important to self-assess. First off, my company needs to look at two things: how it encourages innovation in its products and processes and what types of resources it will provide. In a way this mirrors the concept of the systems approach in that a “disconnected set of parts” as opposed to a “collection of parts which work together”. The whole objective of the systems approach is a how a company can become fully functional and be the “sum” of the parts” as Buckley (1967) eloquently coined (Eisenberg, Goodall, and Tretheway, 2014, p. 96). Below are three strategies that are derived from specific aspects of the systems approach; specifically Senge’s concept of the learning organization and Weick’s sense-model with the combination of pioneering organizational problem-solving models such as “out of the box” thinking. Below are three strong strategies that my company can employ to gain the competitive edge.

Strategy 1: With Senge’s theory of the “learning organization” there are five important characteristics: systems thinking, personal mastery, flexible mental models, shared vision and team learning. Of those five characteristics the three that would best serve a close focus would be systems thinking, shared vision and team learning (Eisenberg, Goodall and Tretheway, 2014, p. 109). Coupled with the concept that learning is achieved through experience, it is through the characteristics of team learning and shared vision that experience is shared and applied (Kim & Senge, 1994, p. 277). More specifically, it is imperative that organizations gain new competencies in learning if they are to remain sustainable in the ever-shifting global market (Kim & Senge, 1994, p. 278).

Strategy 2: Incorporate “out of the box” thinking in HR policies and hiring strategies. If this approach is used the company will attract those candidates who possess the characteristics capable and fostering and engaging in the generation of un-conventional avenues of approaching and solving organizational problems and meeting needs of the organization that are hard to achieve with a normal course of action (Nica, Popescu, and Mironescu, 2012, p. 490). Therefore, it would fall into the HR spectrum that would ensure the “human resource” is being adequately used, but the obvious draw-backs relate to limited available of adequate “human resources” and organizational factors such as decreased productivity, failing recruiting efforts among other deficiencies.

 Strategy 3: Apply Weick’s sense-making model as contingent on the concept of organizational communication, which essentially means making “sense” of the communication message within the organization. Weick describes it as a process for uncovering hidden meaning behind an event or idea (Eisenberg, Goodall and Tretheway, 2014, p. 110). For example, the application of “out of the box” thinking and the communication messages sent from HR may at first seem foreign to other divisions within the organization, but with a modifications to the message being prepared by HR that will address how the implications will directly affect the processes of each division in the organization will garner more buy-in and support from the whole, thus illustrating the earlier assertion of the “sum of the parts”.

The preceding strategies integrate key facets of the systems approach along with “out of the box” thinking, will enable the organization to explore new avenues of revenue-generation, recruiting practices, which will involve four specific areas of performance metrics, integration and retention, utilization of multiple channels, and diagnostic assessment that will ensure sustainable growth for the organization (Nica, Popescu, and Mironescu, 2012, p. 491-492).

Do you think that “out of the box” thinking is a valid approach for promoting and fostering innovation from employees in an organization or just a buzz word to motivate employees into finding unique solutions to organizational issues?


Eisenberg, E.M., & Goodall, H.L. & Tretheway, A. (2014). Organizational communication: balancing creativity and constraint. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

Kim, D. H., & Senge, P. M. (1994). Putting systems thinking into practice. System Dynamics Review (Wiley), 10(2/3), 277-290.

Nica, E., Popescu, G. H., & Mironescu, A. (2012). Working paper concerning the out-of-thebox thinking upon hr policies and procedures evaluation. Global Conference on Business & Finance Proceedings, 7(2), 490-495.