A delayed retrospective on TU811

Believe it or not I started writing this brief retrospective about… four months ago. Shame on me!

As a fyi, I received my final mark for this Systems Thinking module – a Merit. And I am pretty happy with that.

Here is the retrospective though. Better late than never (kind of.)

What worked well for me?

  • I liked the fact that the module provides hard copy textbooks – it allows me to note in the books. Call me old fashioned but there is a security in having something tangible to read (odd given I consider myself fairly tech savvy and will happily read books on Kindle.)  I put it down to being able to highlight and add sticky tabs. Tangible note taking seems to help cement concepts at least for me.
  • The content of the module is well laid-out and the tutors are supportive. The module forum was busy – and a number of the authors were available to ask questions to.
  • The TMAs and EMA were not as formal as I expected – rather the tutors encouraged personal insights and development. There is no ‘right’ answer in this space and so it is more about establishing a frame of thinking and explaining your rationale. This ‘theoretical’ framework is far more user friendly and (I would argue) closer to the way one would might approach real life problems than the dry academia of other subjects.
  • I had more topics than I knew what to do with. Genuinely. Once you start looking at situations from a Systems perspective you will realise that there are potential scenarios everywhere – from your home and work, all the way through to international politics. (Looking at politics with a holistic eye is terrifying… I joke you not.)

What did not work well for me?

  • My own motivation. The first TMA was not… easy but I was super excited and super motivated. The second and third TMA were like wading through treacle and I was finding all sorts of reasons to prevaricate. I managed but it was really hard work. The final EMA was much more manageable.
  • Reducing the waffle. I am a garrulous person. Writing to some pretty strict word counts was very hard work. On an upside my colleagues at work have noticed a distinct decrease in the wordage on my emails as I am more aware of waffle! (Silver lining…?)

Would I recommend this course?

Absolutely. Critical Thinking is an extraordinarily useful skill in business and this course makes you think. At its most basic level the techniques taught in this course have enabled me to proactively ‘catch’ issues before they occur, to mitigate for emergent behaviours that might not otherwise have been considered because I can ‘see’ more of the knock on impacts, or track back a root cause.

In my profession I would argue it should be virtually obligatory as technology is so interdependent.

What is the plan now?

I have to put some thought into what I want this blog to be. There is a lot going on for me now – a lot of learning and a lot of change, and some of it may be useful to document in my own fashion.

My role at work is changing – I am now looking after Environments, Release and Infrastructure for a major transformation Programme, I have recently been approached to do my first conference speaking engagement, I am still mulling over my next Open University module choice, and my employer is investing in a major up-skilling activity which means I can learn or revisit technical skills I never thought I would master.

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