The purpose of this paper is to develop a systematic method for practitioners (owners, operators, designers, and performers) to identify pathologies (aberrations from healthy system function) in complex systems.
A range of published works, which aim to provide practical and theoretical underpinnings on pathologies, were critiqued with respect to method development. A systematic method with five phases was then developed to help identify and assess existence of pathologies as conditions that negatively impact system performance.
There is a range of pathological conditions and factors that affect organizational (system) performance. However, there is a lack of supporting methods that can guide practitioners in identification of pathologies that exist in systems under their purview.
The developed method is based on functional aspects of system viability as established in management cybernetics. Management cybernetics articulates functions that must be performed for continued viability of complex organizations. Therefore, the developed method supports practitioners in their responsibilities to effectively identify pathologies and develop corresponding remedies.
The proposed approach articulates a repeatable approach by which an analyst can interact with a system of interest in order to identify, assess existence of, and prioritize pathologies. This research introduces an opportunity to develop sets of feasible and purposeful responses to pathologies.
This paper fulfills an identified need to provide practitioners with an advanced systems thinking-based approach to identify deep systemic issues (pathologies) as an essential step in improving performance of an organization (system).
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