The logo of social systems engineering
The logo of social systems engineering stands for a compressed, integral understanding of «social systems». It is part of the systems oriented approach of social systems engineering:
- The horizontal arrow stands for the value creating transformation the organization is involved in. Externally gathered resources are transformed into a value for a beneficiary. The latter stands likewise outside of the organization. The wave-form of the border reflects the fact that – in practice – one can never distinguish to a 100% what happens inside the organization and what happens outside.
- The circular arrow represents the control cycle of the value adding transformation. The closed, fed-back control sub-system corresponds to the St. Gallen Management Modell. The concentric structure of the arrow reflects that control architectures tend to have a fractal character (e.g. corporation, strategic business unit, business unit, profit center, … , individual assignment).
- The square frame stands for the normative specifications. On the one hand, this includes classical elements, such as vision, mission, organizational policies and values. A more subtle component of the normative specifications, on the other hand, consists of the daily discourse which defines (often in an informal manner) what identity an organization and their environment “really” has.
- The white domain inside the square frame stands for the organizational culture. Metaphorically, one can imagine the organizational culture as the micro climate that prevails inside the depicted square. On the one hand it is influenced by radiation from the outside. On the other hand it emerges from the activities that take place inside the organization. Simultaneously, the prevailing micro climate is one of the primary conditions under which such activities happen in the first place.
- The dot stands for the individuals. Individuals are typically a part of the primary transformation, the control sub-system and the organizational culture at the same time. In addition, individuals can also take on roles outside of the organization (which is not represented graphically in the model).
One is not allowed to optimize one of the five domains at the cost of another one, if one wants to design and to control a «social system» for viability and for the ability to fulfill its purpose. The core task of the design and the control of «social system» is to balance out all the five domains in a continuous process.
The ultimate objective of managing «social systems» is to increase the well-being of individuals. Outside of the organization this happens by providing products and services (in general under competitive conditions) without causing unacceptable collateral damages. Inside the organization the well-being is increased by creating a work context which motivates stakeholders such as employees, owners, suppliers etc. to gladly provide their mission critical contributions to the organization.
Of course, organizations interact not only with individuals, but also with other organizations. However, it needs to be kept in mind that pain and pleasure is felt by individuals, not by organizations. In this sense, Organizations should at least cause more benefit than damage.