CHAPTER 16  - REVIEW - Examination

Many examinations of systems begin with clearly defined Terms of Reference or objectives. The objectives are usually financial and relate to specific parts of organizations. Such examinations invariably involve detailed inspection of the financial systems and their controls, and eventually become extended exercises in conventional financial or cost accounting. This approach is often based on the simplistic assumption that by identifying what appear to be financial weaknesses problems can be solved by applying more rigorous cost and investment controls. In contrast this study began with the apparently clear objective of examining the Management Information Systems of the Company, identifying their requirements, and proposing any necessary improvements. Management Information Systems, by definition, should cover all aspects of businesses and their management. Therefore, examination of Management Information Systems involves investigation of all parts of the organization. In practice, in the experience of the author, such examinations lead inevitably into demonstrating that the weaknesses that become identified are in reality weaknesses in management, rather than their information systems.

CHAPTER 17  - REVIEW - Strategic Investigation

                The running of a Management Development programme is perhaps an extreme example of the application of the General Theory. It provided a captive audience who had little previous knowledge of conventional western management practices and procedures. The staff, particularly the younger members, were all aware of the need to advance their knowledge and improve their practices. Their previous experience was typical of eastern European countries that had recently emerged from communism. Under such regimes the requirements for survival were to rely on the system and its known procedures, not to challenge or even question authority, not to ask questions, and not to display initiative. Management consisted of observing, complying with, and if necessary manipulating the rules. In such a highly authoritarian environment, which has much similarity to that in many large western corporations, it was not possible for individuals to leave or seek advancement in other more enlightened organizations.

CHAPTER 18 - REVIEW - Operational Investigation

Many case studies are simply a narrative description of the operation of an organization along with some financial or other figures over a given time period. It may be interesting to note that the fare collection problem might be regarded generally as a financial issue. However, no amount of conventional financial or accountancy analysis could have either detected or given any estimate of the amount of money involved in the loss to the Company. In contrast, we have now explored at length the complexities of a case study, and have used only a limited, though important, number of parts of the General Theory. We have attempted to demonstrate the application of the General Theory to a real-life situation, and also we have proposed solutions. Inevitably, for reasons of brevity the descriptions have been simplified. Nevertheless, this shows that even in complex situations issues and problems can be identified and investigated by using the logical and analytical approach that has been described in this book.

Part 5


Case Study

16        Examination

17        Strategic Investigation

18        Operational Investigation

‘Tickets, please!’ said the Guard, putting his head in at the window.

           ‘Now then! Show your ticket, child!’

            ‘I’m afraid I haven’t got one,’ Alice said in a frightened tone:

‘there wasn’t a ticket-office where I came from.’

All this time the Guard was looking at her, first through a telescope, then through a microscope, and then through an opera-glass. At last he said.

‘You’re travelling the wrong way,’

and shut up the window and went away.

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