Effective ways of displaying information
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2.3.1 The model

Figure 12 shows some of the influences which bear on an organisation. These influences, of course, are felt not by ‘an organisation’ but by people within the organisation. It is sensible, therefore, to talk about the influences on the management or on the manager within the organisation. Thus, Figure 12 shows the firm as the main system, while the manager and the other staff are shown as two subsystems within the main one.

Figure 12
Figure 12: Influences on the manager of a firm – influence diagram

The diagram provides the opportunity to identify the external systems or bodies which influence the manager's thinking. Some of those external systems are to do with the organisation's business. They include the competitors, the customers, and the legal rules within which the firm must operate. If the firm is a subsidiary, then the parent organisation will be a powerful influence. But other influential systems lie outside what is probably understood as the business. For example, it is sensible to include the manager's family (as an influence to represent the whole of the manager's private life). It will be equally sensible to include the manager's goals.

These two latter influences, the manager's family and the manager's goals, express the strength of this way of portraying the influences on a person's (in this instance, a manager's) behaviour. The range of the analysis is entirely up to the analyst – the person who draws the diagram – to decide. In the example, any system or body can be represented on the diagram if it exerts an influence on the person whose behaviour is being examined. Perhaps one member of the manager's family is particularly influential; in that instance, that one person can be represented, along with or to the exclusion of the rest of the family. In the same way, the manager's goals could be amended to show a particular goal to which the manager was strongly committed. An influence diagram can also be used to explore and identify the extent to which the powerful people within the organisation (the senior managers) are sensitive to the forces outside the organisation which are bearing on the organisation.

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