DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.




MHA@GW Module 8

Systems Thinking and Learning

Module 8 Key Competencies


Business Skills and Knowledge


    • Systems thinking and organizational learning
    • Strategic planning
    • Solving problems and making decisions



    • Exhibits the ability to asses one's own strengths and weaknesses with the objective of continuosly capitalizing on strengths and improving weaknesses
    • Displays the ability to effectively manage individuals and teams towards achieving the goals associated with organizational excellence
    • Planning and implementing change

Communication and Relationship Management


    • Demonstrates the ability to organize and deliver a professional presentation using the approriate media in a convincing and persuasive manner.
    • Utilizes a set of team building functions to facilitate effective group behavior.
    • Builds effective collarorative relationships with multiple stakeholder groups using verbal and non-verbal communication techniques

 My Development


            This module has explored an array of topics as related to systems thinking and learning. Some examples of these topics have included the following: Personal Mastery, Shared Vision, and Team Learning; Individual, Adult, and Workplace Learning Principles; Team and Community Based Learning; Learning Organizations; and Hard and Soft Systems.


            The topic of hard and soft systems was one of those topics that I explored with further reflection. From my perspective, the root cause analysis (RCA) process that is used within my health care organization (HCO) to review adverse patient safety events is an example that represents both a hard-systems and a soft-systems approach.


            The hard-systems component is evident in the Safety Reporting System (SRS) which is operationalized through health information technology (HIT). Staff members can alert the organization about a safety concern by electronically submitting an SRS report. Differentiation of the safety concerns is achieved through the designation of several areas with which a specific safety issue may align such as the following: Medication, Medical Equipment, and Patient Fall etc. The safety concern is classified further by such factors as the patient experiencing harm or the need to provide an escalation in care.


            In addition, the RCA process of analyzing the factors that contributed to the safety event is also a hard-systems approach to identify the initiation of the error, error trajectory, and failure of internal controls. An important goal of the RCA is to identify as many causal factors as possible that contribute to the observed effect. Of course, this linear analysis of seeking to identify a cause and effect relationship is a hallmark of hard systems.


            The soft-systems approach in the RCA process involves the necessary skills to interview the patient and staff while also managing the emotions surrounding the safety event and the investigation process. Examples of specific soft skills that are helpful to successfully navigate this aspect of a root cause analysis includes the following: interpersonal relationship skills, communication skills, and skillful management of difficult situations. 








DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.