You are on page 1of 31

LSE (London

School of
Economics)

University of Birmingham University of
Durham University
Southampton University Reading

Doctorate in Business Administration
(DBA)
DBA STRATEGIC THINKIN AND CRITICAL ANALYSIS:
Part1: Company Report (Tesla plc)

Part2: The Evidence Review

Part3: Reflection for employability enhancement & leadership

For Assignment writing or Dissertation Help, Please Contact:
Dr. Sajid Saeed
+447762198474 (WhatsApp/Viber/imo)
Email: todrsaeed@gmail.com
2

Executive Summary

Tesla Inc., is well known for its cars and has successfully captured European market. However,
the company is currently facing some issues regarding poor handling of customer complaints. As
soft system methodology is an increasingly adapted tool to identify and solve organizational
problems; therefore, this methodology is used to discuss problem situation, explain it using rich
picture diagram, develop conceptual models, compare solutions with real word scenario and
implement them using eight step Kotter’s change model and BBS feedback. Nevertheless, the use
of soft system methodology, its implementation and critique to solve as a tool for consultant is
supported with evidence review. Finally, my employability and leadership skills, competencies
and capabilities are assessed using different tools, i.e., personal SWOT analysis and Johri window
along with proposal of development of further skills.
3

Table of Contents
Part I: Company Report .............................................................................................................. 5

1.0 Company background: Tesla Inc....................................................................................... 5

1.1 Market share .................................................................................................................... 5

1.2 Competitors ...................................................................................................................... 6

2.0 Main Issues/ Challenges ...................................................................................................... 7

3.0 Situational Analysis ............................................................................................................. 8

3.1 Meta-Analysis................................................................................................................... 8

4.0 Solutions using Soft System Methodology at Tesla ........................................................ 10

4.1 Summary of the problem situation .............................................................................. 10

4.2 Expression of the problem situation ............................................................................ 10

4.3 Formulation of Root Definitions .................................................................................. 11

4.4 Conceptual Model Development .................................................................................. 13

4.5 Comparison of proposed conceptual models with the real world ............................. 14

4.6 Define possible solutions ............................................................................................... 15

4.7 Required actions for implementation of solutions ...................................................... 16

5.0 Consultant Recommendation ........................................................................................... 18

6.0 Risk of not Implementing Proposal ................................................................................. 19

References ................................................................................................................................ 20

Part II: Evidence Review............................................................................................................ 22

1.0 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 22

2.0 Review on soft system methodology ................................................................................ 22

3.0 Potential DBA perspectives .............................................................................................. 25

References ................................................................................................................................ 26

Part III: Reflection for employability enhancement and leadership ..................................... 28

1.0 Assessment of critical thinking and core capabilities required to complete consultancy
task ............................................................................................................................................ 28
4

1.1 Assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses .............................................................. 28

1.2 Assessment of current leadership experience, potential, and competencies ............ 29

1.3 Personal leadership development and career progression ........................................ 30

2.0 Conclusion .......................................................................................................................... 30

References ................................................................................................................................ 31
5

Part I: Company Report

1.0 Company background: Tesla Inc.

Tesla Inc., formerly or commonly known as Tesla Motors is an electric vehicle maker with
headquarter in California. Initially, the organization was established by Martin Eberhard and Elon
Musk in the year 2003 that went listed (publicly traded) in the year 2010. Since then, Tesla is
known as the top notch automaker with alternative powertrains and electric vehicle producer.
Besides producing electric vehicles, the company also manufactures solar panel and energy
storage. Tesla specializes in residential photovoltaic panels, lithium-ion battery energy storage,
and electric cars. However, some other additional products of Tesla include solar roof tiles, solar
panels, power pack batteries and power wall batteries. Internationally, Tesla has delivered
nearly76, 000 vehicles in 2016, whereas it supplied 26,000 vehicles in the 2017’s third quarter.
The important model of Tesla in the year 2016 include “Tesla Model 3”, “Tesla Model X”, “Tesla
Model S”, and “Tesla Roadster”. The mission of the company is to provide products to the
customers that are at the high-end market sphere. Its business is conducted in Europe, Asia and
North America, where Europe has become its biggest market followed by the company’s
dominance in its domestic market. However, its models and vehicles are also successful in China
in Asian region (Statista 2017).

1.1 Market share
According to JATO (2017), Tesla has become top popular international vehicle maker between
January and September 2017. The following image shows that globally, with respect to electric
vehicles (EV) Tesla has become the top brand whereas its model, “Tesla Model S” ranks third
among the other brand models.
6

Figure 1: Tesla brand position Internationally (JATO 2017)

However, with respect to European market, Tesla has also become top brand with highest
penetration rate of electric vehicles that reflects the leading position of the brand in the Europe
(JATO 2017).

Figure 2: Tesla’s leading position in European market (JATO 2017)

1.2 Competitors
Tesla is expected to face serious competition from its major rivals and their more efficient models,
particularly for electric vehicles, that include Volkswagen I.D. Cozz, BMW Mini E and Nissan
7

Leaf in the year 2018. However, its other competitors include Subaru's all-electric crossover,
Chevy Bolt of General Motors, and Volvo's first all-electric car who will compete with Tesla 3
Model in current year (Matousek 2018). Moreover, the other electric vehicles maker and their
efficient models competing in the market include Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, Toyota Mirai,
Jaguar I-Pace, Volkswagen e-Up!, Faraday Future FF 91, Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Leaf (The
Week 2017). However, the competition in the market has increased after the announcement of
Hyundai for its new electric cars for 2022 (Musaddique 2017).

2.0 Main Issues/ Challenges

Though, Tesla Inc seems to be high technology organization; however, the company is questioned
regarding several issues for customer service.

 One of the challenges issue for Tesla Inc., is its after-sales service that has made several
many Tesla owners angry and dissatisfied (Alaniz 2018; Tin-yau 2016).
 The company though being innovative uses third party maintenance centers to fix the
problems of the cars because it still has limited number of official maintenance centers that
has affected after-sales service (Tin-yau 2016).
 Most owners of the Tesla or its customers have complained that its service center does not
have adequate staff and sufficient capacity to serve customers (Tin-yau 2016).
 Alaniz (2018) states that about 65 complaints were registered by customers at Tesla out of
which only 23 have met the requirements and satisfaction of customers; 25 claims were
not responded, 17 cases were not notified to BBB (Better Business Bureau) and 10 cased
were poorly resolved.
 Ngubane (2017) reported poor customer service of Tesla. The buyers of Tesla cars are
dissatisfied with the information and service delivery as it has poor customer assistance.
 Darrow (2017) provided that a lot of customers face difficulty in obtaining information
regarding delivery date and poor direct sales approach. Moreover, the company’s network
of dealership as well as the delivery of service facilities to customers from pre-sales
inquiries to the occurring service calls is poor which is losing trust and confidence of
customers in the Tesla cars.

These challenges reflect that the company has poor handling of the customer complaints and
information delivery that is creating aggression and dissatisfaction among the customers.
8

3.0 Situational Analysis

3.1 Meta-Analysis
As identified previously that Tesla is facing serious issues regarding handling of customer
complaints; therefore, before proceeding with finding solution to the problem using soft system
methodology, it is important to analyze the problem through meta-analysis. Though, this is the
first time Tesla has faced issues regarding mismanagement of customer complaints handling
therefore, there is no former evidence for the company to the solution of this problem. However,
this issue has remain constant in the past as several other auto-manufacturing industry has faced
similar issue. Using the key words “customer complaint handling issues in automobile industry”,
more than 10,000 search options were shown that include news websites, articles, journal articles,
blogs etc. However, narrowing the search to more evidence based reviews, fifteen important
journal articles were identified out of which five are chosen to include their description in this
study’s meta-analysis to identify situation and their proposed solutions. This comparison is
provided with the help of following table:

Source Study Outcomes
Shanmugaraja, Nataraj and The research has developed model for customer care
Gunasekaran (2010) management that integrates the conceptual features of Six Sigma
and QFD to manage customer complaints in the automotive
sector.
Abreu and Sousa (2012) The study emphasizes on the customer loyal and satisfaction
which are key success factors for any organization. Therefore,
deployment of continuous improvement approaches that include
six sigma is required. This method has helped to increase
customer satisfaction as it provides efficient response in
handling complaints. The purpose behind this is to improve the
identification of defective products. Thus, six sigma as proved
to have improve customer services and customer complaints
handling process.
Rudat (2007) The study provides that customer complaints could be reduced
through digital handling, i.e., using software, so that high quality
and security of data could be ensured. This will include all the
9

information regarding customer complaints so that they could be
addressed on time and customer satisfaction could be improved.

Goodman and Newman The study provides that removal of perceived behavior to
(2003) complain can help customers to solve their problems. Some of
the barriers include, where and how to complain; their
perception that organization won’t take any action; the fear of
revenge in form of governmental, financial or medical expenses;
etc. However, other behaviors of customers regarding
complaints include dissatisfaction of business and individual
customers who avoid complaining; often the complaints does
not reveal cause or source of the problem; service systems, field
sales and retail sales often discourage and filter complains;
retention of brand loyalty is possible by encouraging customers
to articulate their issues; raise ease of access to minimize ration
of complaint; The tendency to complain is openly proportional
to respondent’s damage and perceived severity of issue;
complainers are usually said as the most user of service or
products; and negative word of mouth is created when the
customers remain unsatisfied and experience same problem
even after complaining. Thus, these behaviors should be
considered while developing appropriate tools to handle
customer complaints.

East Ayrshire Council (2012) The report provides different views on complaint handling
procedures. However, the report recommends that proper
approach to complaint handling should be followed. For
instance, the front line employees at the service centers should
try to find out the best possible solution to the customers to solve
their issues. In case, the problem is solved, the case is closed.
However, in other case, there must be a proper investigation to
the problem. The customer should be provided minimum time
period after which he/ she can contact service center or
10

maintenance center to find out the progress of their complaints.
However, it is important that all the complaints must be recorded
and it must be assured that the customers are satisfied after being
addressed regarding their complaints.

4.0 Solutions using Soft System Methodology at Tesla

In order to address the issue faced by Tesla regarding the handling and management of customer
complaints, there are several ways through which the problem situation could be solved. The
following are the different steps provided by Checkland’s soft system methodology to solve the
issue at Tesla.

4.1 Summary of the problem situation
As identified earlier, Tesla is facing issues of poor customer complaints handling that reflects poor
customer care management and inappropriate customer services. Lots of complaints goes
unaddressed and ignored by the company’s after sales/ customer representatives at the official
maintenance center. As a result, the customer dissatisfaction is increasing which can pose serious
threat to the company. The company has greatly expanded in the European market and the demand
for its electric vehicles are increasing greatly. However, if Tesla continues to poorly manage
customer complaints or after sale services; it may lost its leadership position in the market; thereby
providing its competitors to enter and overtake the market share of the company.

4.2 Expression of the problem situation
The problem situation identified has wider implications if considered from broader perspectives.
The poor customer service management and handling of complaints could create bad image of
Tesla that could affect its brand reputation in one of its biggest markets, i.e., Europe. Moreover,
the poor customer service would not only create dissatisfaction among customers, but will also
restrict other customers to purchase/ own Tesla cars due to bad word of mouth of the company’s
after sales services. This would eventually enter Tesla into losses, declining sales and profitability,
poor customer retention, decreasing employee morale and shut-down of operations. On the other
hand, improvement in the problem situation, i.e., increasing efficiency of customer complaints
handling could bring substantial profits to the company, increase its sales, create positive brand
image, and increase customer loyalty, trust, retention and satisfaction which are key success factors
11

for any organization. This broader scenario is expressed with the help of following rich picture
diagram.

Figure 3: Rich Picture Diagram for Tesla’s problem situation

4.3 Formulation of Root Definitions
Tesla is in high need to increase its focus on resolving issue of customer complaint handling and
services, which can be done through proper customer complaint handling procedure and Six
Sigma. The following are the root definition for these two terms:

Customer Complaint Handling: A complaint refers to dissatisfaction expression that is made
about an organization or to its services or products, for the staff that handles complaint, where
a resolution or response is legally required, or implicitly or explicitly expected.
Six Sigma: Six Sigma refers to a data driven methodology and approach used by organizations
to eliminate defects from transactional to manufacturing and from service to product.
12

Before providing more detail about the root definitions and solutions, it is important to assess the
system using CATOWE analysis. The following is the CATOWE analysis for Tesla:

C – Customers It include the owners or buyers of the Tesla cars who can be of any
gender and belong to any ethnicity, race or culture. However, they
should have capability to purchase high-tech cars and electric
vehicles who are comparably expensive as compared to
conventional cars.
A – Actors It include the company’s management, staff, and particularly front
line employees who deals with the customers at official
maintenance center and service centers of Tesla.
T- Transformation by It provides general transformation system include changing inputs
this system into outputs. The effecting handling of customer complaints using
proper approach could result in increased customer satisfaction.
W - Worldview/ It provides that handling customer complaints are important as
Weltanschauung their satisfaction contributes to the sustainability of the business.
The poor complaints handling and management will create
customer dissatisfaction, loss to the Tesla, and decline in sales and
profitability.
O - Owner of the system It includes the front line employees of Tesla working at after sales
service center/ maintenance center/ service center who directly
deals with the customers to resolve their complaints and issues.
However, Tesla is responsible to bear all the supporting cost of the
system, such as hiring trained employees or expertise staff, and
implement new systems to handle customer complaints.
E - Environmental There are no as such environmental constraints to the system;
constraints to the system however, the identification and implementation of solution to the
problem situation will help to minimize defects at earlier stage,
improve customer complaints handling, and decrease in number of
car / vehicle accidents, less environment pollution and greater
environmental and societal concern.
13

4.4 Conceptual Model Development
To overcome the issue of customer complaints or handling of complaints, there are several
methods that could be adopted. However, as Tesla deals in the automobile sector, where high cost
of manufacturing is applied in designing, manufacturing, assembling and finalizing of electric
vehicles; therefore, the company must assure that defects are minimized or eliminated at earlier
stage. This will help to reduce overall cost of defect, if identified, in the final product. Overcoming
the issue of zero defect will result in less customer complaints and increased customer satisfaction.
Therefore, the following is the conceptual model for utilizing and implementing six sigma at Tesla:

Figure 4: Conceptual Model for Six Sigma Implementation

Though, considering the defects and problems identified in the finished electric vehicles are
reduced; however, still the customer could face some issues regarding service delivery, use of
vehicle options and features, delivery of vehicles, information regarding maintenance of vehicles,
or any other information for which they contact service centers/ official maintenance centers/
customer care centers. Therefore, it is important to have higly trained employees and expertise
working as front line employees at Tesla who are skilled and capable enough to solve and manage
customer complaints and satisfy them. Therefore, the following is the conceptual model for
handling customer complaints procedure at official service/ maintenanc center of Tesla.
14

Figure 5: Conceptual Mode for Customer Complaint Handling Procedure

4.5 Comparison of proposed conceptual models with the real world
The below provided table shows the comparison of the previously provided two conceptual
models, i.e., six sigma and customer complaint handling procedure, with the real world scenario
to evidence their success.

Conceptual Model Real World Activities What can be done
Activities
Six Sigma is expected to The conceptual model Rigorous implementation of
eliminate defects at initial activities have been proved six sigma must be assured
levels that save an true to a considerable extent. with regular control and
organization to bear cost of However, mismanagement monitoring procedures. This
overall defected product, and poor deployment of Six model could also be used
15

avoid vehicle recalling and sigma would not bring simultaneously with QFD
gain wider customer expected outcomes. (quality function deployment)
satisfaction. model to increase
manufacturing/ production
efficiency of electric vehicles
at Tesla
Customer complaint handling Lack of trained employees or Besides assuring that the
procedures are used to resolve poor staffing or lack of skills/ provided conceptual model
customer issues in the best capabilities (expertise) in the process of customer
possible way and to assure front staff would not bring complaint handling is
customer satisfaction. desired outcomes. followed, it is also important
that Tesla should provide
trained staff/ expertise to
handle customer issues.
However, taking feedback
from customers regarding
after sales services will help
to know the success and
outcomes of following proper
complaint handling procedure
at Tesla’s official service/
customer care/ maintenance
centers.

4.6 Define possible solutions
The analysis of conceptual model and their comparison with real world activities shows that Tesla
should immediately improve its customer complaint handling through six sigma and proper
procedure to manage/ handle complaints. Though, the customer complaint handling procedure,
provided previously, will be implemented at Tesla’s official service/ customer care/ maintenance
centers; however, six sigma would be implemented at the manufacturing concern of Tesla so that
defects or issues in the final product, i.e., electric vehicle, could be resolved at earlier stages. This
would result in reduced chances of customer complaints, thereby assuring high customer
satisfaction.
16

4.7 Required actions for implementation of solutions
While implementing the provided solutions, i.e., six sigma and customer complaint handling
procedure, the two models, i.e., Kotter’s change model and BBS feedback should be taken into
account to make implementation successful.

4.7.1 Eight Step Kotter’s change model
The eight step model of change provides the different steps that helps in the effective
implementation of solution or change. Therefore, at Tesla, firstly the necessity and urgency to
improve customer complaint handling should be created across the customer care/ service/
maintenance centers and manufacturing concern. Secondly, Tesla must create a team at the
customer care/ service/ maintenance centers who will be responsible to assure the implementing
of proposed customer handling procedure; whereas another team will be created at manufacturing
concern to assure the implementation of six sigma to identify and eliminate defects at initial stage.
Thirdly, there must be a proper vision developed for the two teams to assure that they are aware
of what is expected them to achieve. Fourthly, the vision developed must be communicated across
the organization, particularly at relevant departments so that all the employees could collectively
work together to assure successful implementation of possible solutions to reduce customer
complaints. Fifthly, the final implementation of the proposed solutions, i.e., six sigma at
manufacturing concern and proper customer complaint handling procedure by trained employees/
expertise will be done. Sixthly, while implementing the solution, the employees must be motivated
for short term win and long term win using different intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Seventhly,
there must be constant monitoring and control of the two teams and implementation of six sigma
and customer complaint handling procedure to achieve targeted goal of reducing customer
complaints. Lastly, a benchmark should be created at the relevant department to avoid raise of
similar issues. For instance, after the implementation of six sigma, the manufacturing concern of
Tesla will assure that the number defected vehicles will be decreased by 20% in first year, 50% in
second year and 90% in third year. Whereas at customer care/ service/ maintenance centers, the
number of complaints and poor handling of complaints will be reduced by 30% in first year, 60%
in second year and 100% in third year.
17

Figure 6: Kotter's 8 Step change model (Webster n.d.)

4.7.2 Behavior Based Safety (BBS) feedback
To assure safety of employees at the customer care/ service/ maintenance centers (for
implementation of customer complaint handling procedure) and manufacturing concern (for six
sigma implementation), Behavior Based Safety (BBS) feedback must be implemented. However,
for this, a rigid procedure is required to be adopted at Tesla.
18

Figure 7: BBS Procedure (Land Transport Authority n.d.)

Firstly, the checklist of the items important for initiating implementation or change process should
be established. Secondly, a person should be held responsible in both the areas, i.e., customer care/
service/ maintenance centers and manufacturing concern who will be observe the safety
procedures and practices required while implementing change. This will be started with baseline
observations to the overall observation. However, on the proceeding stages, continuous
improvement measures are taken to assure positive behavior of employees regarding
implementation of the solution. For this, statistical analysis could be done at the manufacturing
concern for the implementation of six sigma with respect to the reduction in number of defective
electric vehicles/ cars. However, goals must be set at both the relevant areas, i.e., customer care/
service/ maintenance centers, and manufacturing concern of Tesla. The invention cycle then must
be started if there is any difficulty or negative behavioral analysis is identified. The implementation
of this procedure will help to achieve continuous improvement with respect to the safety
performance at Tesla’s manufacturing concern and customer care/ service/ maintenance centers.

5.0 Consultant Recommendation

As a consultant, I strongly recommend that the given possible solution derived through soft system
methodology must be implemented at earliest so that Tesla could improve its customer handling
processes and overcome issue of customer dissatisfaction. It is also strongly advised that
implementation of six sigma at the manufacturing concern must be regularly monitored, recorded
19

and controlled as it will help to secure future position of an organization while making its recent
and upcoming models successful. However, trained and expertise should be hired and positioned
at the customer care/ service/ maintenance centers who could serve customers and resolve their
complaints in best possible way by following given procedure for complaints handling. The
implementation of both the provided solutions will overall reduce vehicle recall, reduce number
of defects in vehicles and its parts/ components thereby increasing sales, revenues, profitability
and customer satisfaction.

6.0 Risk of not Implementing Proposal

The analysis of problem encountered at Tesla strongly advise the company to implement proposed
possible solutions. However, in case if Tesla does not implement the proposal, it will encounter
several other problems and issues that will negatively affect the company. Firstly, Tesla could lose
its dominant position in electric vehicle models as well as in its major market, i.e., Europe.
Secondly, the persistently increasing number of customer complaints and their unresolved matters
would result in customer dissatisfaction which could create negative word of mouth and loss in
future potential customers/ buyers. Thirdly, Tesla’s sale will decline which will lead to decrease
in profitability and revenues. Fourthly, negative image of brand will be created that will result in
decreased market share and inefficiency of Tesla to compete in its industry. However, besides
these, there are several other risks, such as inefficiency of operations, poor performance, and threat
from competitors, etc., that could be faced by the company.
20

References

Abreu, P and Sousa, S 2012, ‘Using Six Sigma to Improve Complaints Handling’, Proceedings of
the World Congress on Engineering, Vol III, pp 4 – 6

Alaniz, A 2018. Better Business Bureau Slams Tesla Over Poor Customer Service. Available from
https://www.carsdirect.com/automotive-news/better-business-bureau-slams-tesla-over-
poor-customer-service [26 May 2018]

Darrow, B 2017. Tesla Must Fix its Customer Service Problems, Says Star Analyst. Available from
http://fortune.com/2017/05/19/tesla-service-problems/ [26 May 2018]

East Ayrshire Council 2012, Complaints Handling Procedures, East Ayrshire Council Design
Section

Goodman, J and Newman, S 2003, ‘Understand Customer Behavior And Complaints: Eight areas
of quantifiable data can be integrated into quality assurance decisions’, Quality Progress,
pp 51-55

JATO 2017. Tesla most popular global electric vehicle brand between January and September
2017. Available from http://www.jato.com/tesla-popular-global-electric-vehicle-brand-
january-september-2017/ [26 May 2018]

Land Transport Authority n.d. Behaviour Based Safety (BBS). Available from
https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/industry-matters/safety-and-health-and-
environment/construction-safety-and-environment/behaviour-based--safety-bbs.html [26
May 2018]

Matousek, M 2018. These 6 electric cars will pose the biggest threat to Tesla's Model 3. Available
from http://uk.businessinsider.com/electric-cars-challenging-tesla-model-3-2018-1/#1-
2018-nissan-leaf-1 [26 May 2018]

Musaddique, S 2017. Hyundai to introduce new electric cars for 2022. Available from
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/hyundai-electric-car-2022-launch-
date-tesla-model-3-miles-per-hour-charge-a7898611.html [26 May 2018]

Ngubane, M 2017. Tesla Wakes up From Bad Service Nightmare With Help From Apple. Available
from https://learnbonds.com/135136/tesla-service-nightmare-apple/ [26 May 2018]
21

Rudat, M 2007, Consistently Avoiding Errors: Continental Automotive handles complaints using,
SupplyOn

Shanmugaraja, Nataraj, and Gunasekaran 2010, ‘Customer Care Management Model for Service
Industry’, Scientific Research, Volume 2, pp 145-155

Statista 2017. Tesla - Statistics & Facts. Available from
https://www.statista.com/topics/2086/tesla/ [26 May 2018]

The Week 2017. Best electric cars 2017: Smart, Tesla and more. Available from
http://www.theweek.co.uk/electric-cars/69705/best-electric-cars-2017-smart-tesla-and-
more [26 May 2018]

Tin-yau, K 2016. Tesla under fire for poor after-sales service. Available from
http://www.ejinsight.com/20160505-tesla-under-fire-poor-after-sales-service/ [26 May
2018]

Webster, M n.d. Successful Change Management — Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model. Available
from https://www.leadershipthoughts.com/kotters-8-step-change-model/ [26 May 2018]
22

Part II: Evidence Review

1.0 Introduction

Nearly all organization undergoes a transformation process, sooner or later, however, there are two
methods, soft thinking and hard thing to support the process. This part of the report discusses
evidences obtained using secondary sources, such as online books, journal articles, etc., on the soft
system methodology. In particular, the review provides a brief background on soft system
methodology, its application and the criticisms.

2.0 Review on soft system methodology

According to Adebowale (2011), the introduction of soft systems thinking was done by Checkland
and colleagues in the decade of 1980s as an explanatory method to implement holistic systems
thinking that is different from the formerly used analytical approach to solve problems. The soft
system thinking was considered to be more suited for the unstructured, messy and complex
problems in which the alternatives or solutions were not clear and the participants involved in the
system had diverse views either to proceed with the issue or approach the problem. Such situations
are characterized as both pluralist and complex as it comprises of several many indeterminable
variables. According to Checkland and Scholes (1990), soft systems methodology is referred as an
important cyclic iterative method of enquiry to structure and formulate thinking regarding issues
in circumstances in which the participants have contrasting views on the world. The process of
soft system methodology is the development of conceptual models of possible alternatives or
solutions based on the ideal system’s root definitions drawn and required from rich picture diagram
of the expressed problem situation. Shi, Wang, Peng, Li and Zeng (2009) provides key
assumptions behind soft system methodology. Firstly, it is a process to manage and undertake
achievable organized action. Secondly, soft system methodology believes that each individual
have different views on the world. This difference on views results in varying understanding and
assessment of any situation that in turn leads to different actions. SSM was developed to enable
rational action, taking these mismatches into account. Thirdly, the practitioners of soft system
methodology take management process of evaluating and applying organized actions while
reacting to changes that could affect implementation. Fourthly, it is developed to assure logical
action, considering other mismatches. Fifthly, soft system methodology was created out of system
thinking as former systems were believed to be inadequate to deal and handle with the issues that
are not clearly defined and agreed on outcomes. Sixthly, soft system methodology considers
23

process of management to only for managers, i.e., to manage and conduct activities at all levels
and in all types of informal and formal organizational groupings. Wilson and Haperen (2015)
regards that the conceptual models of the soft system methodology are compared with real world
scenario and are debated regarding the underlying assumptions and deviations required to achieve
desired outcomes/ solutions. Shi, Wang, Peng, Li and Zeng (2009) states that soft system
methodology does not merely revolves around assessing systems that exists in the real world,
instead, it deals with the implementation of systems thinking to issues in messy and complex
situations to offer a series of logical constructs or concepts that helps to generate learning while
increasing the understanding of the concealed variables that are present in complex situation.
Checkland and Poulter (2006) asserts that process of soft system methodology was initially a seven
stage method; however, the increasing research has made it increasingly flexible and less
structured approach that has expanded its potential application.

With respect to the application of soft system methodology in an organization, several
organizations have provided its benefits as it helps in the transformation processes leading to
productive outcomes. According to Wilson (2008) change in organization usually takes place
within six to nine months as the world has become increasingly problematic with increased
competition and challenges. Beer and Einsenstat (2004) provides that some of the methods to
accelerate or optimize change has been optimized as an important fit between capability of an
organization and the business environment. However, Senge (2006) provides that one of the
important feature of optimal change process is organizational learning. It could also be viewed as
a constant or continuous process which helps in the facilitation of redesigning of an organization.
Additionally, Shani and Docherty (2003) defines the different steps of learning that serves as
important dimensions for change within an organization. These dimensions of learnings creates a
separate set of unusual solutions from which respondents can choose the appropriate that meets
the requirements of organizational change or transformation. According to Winter (2006) soft
system methodology could be used as an extension to for the project management to structure the
problems. Soft system methodology is also increasingly being used to identify simulation study
objectives to be adapted for specific purpose. In contrast, Kotiadis (2007) identified that soft
system methodology could be used successfully to construct or develop of the complex system
processes, as it helps to make more comprehensive and transparent, while surfacing constraints
and assumptions which helps to create creative outcomes. Similarly, Blixt and James (2004) states
that soft system methodology helps in identifying the need of rapid transformation considering
factors for organizational change. According to them, there are different drivers of change that
24

have emerged with the increasing complexity in markets, rising global competition and demand to
perform excellently in the competing markets. However, Blixt and James (2004) also revealed that
could be used for supporting systems, critical mass and leadership as important features to
accelerate change. Nevertheless, they did not provided any method of overcoming resistance or
implementation when no system methodology or systems thinking is used. In contrast, Molineaux
and Haslett (2007) identified that soft system methodology has proved to be beneficial in
addressing and diagnosing organizational issues and in developing new systems that are
considered by pluralist values and views. Their experience showed that increased level of
creativity was produced by the implementation of soft system methodology workshops in huge
government organization. While the research of Molineaux and Haslett (2007) revealed different
opportunities that increases creativity; however, they failed to address the challenges of
accelerating or enhancing change. As a result, there remains a gap in the body of literature in which
the implementation of soft system methodology has initiated change in the organizations.

Though application of soft system methodology is widely proposed, however, there are also some
critique regarding it. Soft system methodology is itself a dialectic process which helps to develop
consensus to bring improvement and change in the organization. Therefore, it also believes that
there must be an insight and level of learning among the participants which will help to attain the
consensus to be reached. Thus, when there is collective learning it is referred to as organizational
learning. However, if the actual case is different, the system falters, because a coercive or an
authoritarian method is not accepted as the characteristic of soft system methodology process. It
largely depends on the insights of every participant and could be restricted by their freedom of
thinking patterns and exposure to experiences. Jackson (1982) provides that soft system
methodology could be affected by the participant’s intellectual capacity or their deep ideologies,
prejudices and convictions. Likewise, Checkland and Tsouvalis (1997) identified the challenges
faced in the development of the conceptual models particularly when the participants does not
have greater exposure to organizational learning and experience which could cause limitation of
the soft system methodology to generate alternate systems. Likewise, Mingers and Taylor (1992)
pointed out even though the participants might offer on the characteristics of conceptual model,
i.e., what it must do, but there always remain diverse views on alternatives to solve a problem.
This reflects that soft system methodology has limited ability to handle with the situations of
resistance to change and powers, as there also remains large number of participants that do not
agree with the fact that soft system methodology does not necessarily bring change in the
organization. Mingers and Taylor (1992) have argued that soft system methodology does not
25

necessarily offer a feasible solution to the problem, instead, it offers a consensual corridor for
action to go in the right direction. Moreover, soft system methodology also serves as an iterative
approach that requires to be revisited many times. It could be regarded as an open ended system
as one can approach any stage of the soft system methodology processes which could create
difficulty in finding out whether the success level that has been attained is adequate enough to
provide participants to proceed and complete the change initiative.

3.0 Potential DBA perspectives

From the evidence, it could be said that soft system methodology plays an important role in an
organization that aim to improve or change in accordance to the external environment. However,
there must be future studies as the DBA research perspectives in which more about soft system
methodology, its approaches, limitations, challenges, stages/ process and application could be
explored in different industries or organizations. This is because the problem solving approach,
even for similar problem could be entirely different in other industry. For instance, this research
outlines the problems of customer complaint handling at Tesla Inc. that operates in automotive
industry for which the alternatives or solutions are different from those organizations who face
similar issues (of customer complaint handling) in airline industry or retail industry. This is due to
contrasting views of the participants in generating different alternatives/ possible solutions to the
problem. However, while gathering evidences for soft system methodology and preparing
consultancy report, my research and analytical skills along with the approach to view the world,
its scenarios, problem situations and obtaining right solution in different ways has improved. This
will help me while proceeding further with other modules of the DBA as well as in the research
undertaken in the end of the study.
26

References

Adebowale, O 2011, Application of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) in a Swedish State
University Resource Allocation Problem, GRIN Verlag

Beer, M and Einsenstat, RA 2004, ‘How to have an honest conversation’, Harvard Business
Review, Issue 82, pp 82-89.

Blixt, AB and James, S 2004, ‘Accelerating Strategic Change’, Learnende Organisation
(January/February), pp 1-16.

Checkland, P and Poulter, J 2006, Learning for action: a short definitive account of soft systems
methodology and its use for practitioner, teachers, and students, Wiley

Checkland, P and Scholes, J 1990, Soft Systems Methodology in Action, Wiley

Checkland, P and Tsouvalis, C 1997, ‘Reflecting on SSM: The link between root definitions and
conceptual models’, Systems Research Behavioural Science, Volume 14, pp 153-168.

Jackson, MC 1982, ‘The Nature of 'Soft' Systems Thinking: The Work of Churchman, Ackoff
and Checkland’, Journal of Applied Systems Analysis Volume 9, pp 17 - 39.

Kotiadis, K 2007, ‘Using soft systems methodology to determine the simulation study
objectives’, Journal of Simulation, Volume 1, pp 215-222.

Mingers, J and Taylor, S 1992, ‘The Use of Soft Systems Methodology in Practice’, Journal of
the Operations Research Society, Volume 43, No 4, pp 321 - 332.

Molineaux, J and Haslett, T 2007, ‘The Use of Soft Systems Methodology to Enhance Group
Creativity’, Systemic Practice and Action Research, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 477-496.

Senge, PM 2006, The Fifth Discipline:The Art and Practice of the Learning Organation,
Random House Australia.

Shani, ABR and Docherty, P 2003, Learning by Design: Building Sustainable Organizations,
MPG Books/Blackwell.

Shi, Y, Wang, S, Peng, Y, Li, J and Zeng, Y 2009, Cutting-Edge Research Topics on Multiple
Criteria Decision Making: 20th International Conference, MCDM 2009,
Chengdu/Jiuzhaigou, China, June 21-26, 2009. Proceedings, Springer Science &
Business Media
27

Wilson, B 2008, Soft Systems Methodology: Conceptual Model Building and Its Contribution,
Wiley

Wilson, B and Haperen, KV 2015, Soft Systems Thinking, Methodology and the Management of
Change, Macmillan International Higher Education

Winter, M 2006, ‘Problem structuring in project management: An application of soft systems
methodology (SSM)’, Journal of the Operational Research Society, March, pp 1-11
28

Part III: Reflection for employability enhancement and leadership

1.0 Assessment of critical thinking and core capabilities required to complete consultancy
task

Working for Tesla Inc., as a consultant require possession of several skills. However, I assume
that I possess most of the skills, core capabilities and critical thinking ability required by a
successful consultant. Thus, the following personal SWOT analysis shows my assessment of
strengths and weaknesses along with the opportunities and threats prevailing in the external
environment (Connor, Mary, Pokora and Julia 2012).

1.1 Assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses
Strengths Weaknesses
I possess the following list of strengths: I possess the following list of weaknesses
 Good research skills  Limited leadership skills
 Technical skills  Limited ability to work under pressure
 Ability to handle few computer  Limited knowledge as a consultant
software such as Ms Word, etc.
 My personal qualification and in
progress study of DBA
 Critical thinking
 Logical development of reasoning
 Argument building
 Honesty
 Team working
 Leadership
 Communication and collaboration
skills
 Negotiation skills
 Problem solving skills
 Honesty
 Reliability
 Multi-tasking skills
29

Opportunities Threats
I can take benefit from the following list of I am confronted with the following list of
opportunities: threats:
 Increasing demand for market and  Too many consultants in the market
business consultants in contemporary  High ratio of highly educated,
business environment experienced and well-informed
 Increasing demand for soft system consultants
methodology analyst  Long term business contracts between
 Growing number of consultancy firms consultants and the business
and consultants in the market. organizations
 Everyday challenges faces by business
organizations

1.2 Assessment of current leadership experience, potential, and competencies
In order to assess my current leadership experience, potential and competencies, I have used Johri
window model that segregates the possessed skills in four areas that helps an individual to
understand their relationships with others and themselves. These four areas include Arena or open
area, blind spot, façade and unknown. The current leadership skills and competencies I possess are
reflected below through Johri Window Model (Russell and Cohn 2012):

Arena or open area (skills known to self and known to others): Communication skills, honesty,
integrity, ability to learn and develop, curiousness, critical thinking, rational reasoning, logic
development out of information, argumentative, persuasive, influencing personality, multi-tasking
skills, adaptable, self-development, self-motivated, resilient, and working in teams and groups,
etc.

Blind spot (skills not known to self and known to others): Team building skills, interpersonal
skills, negotiation skills, vision achiever, collaboration skills, mentoring skills, negotiating skills,
trust, and long term relationship builder, etc.

Façade (skills known to self and not known to others): Innovative, creative, competent,
punctual, critical thinking ability, good decision making skills, information sharing, strategic
insight, and ability to analyse given information critically, etc.
30

Unknown (not known to others and not known to self): High achiever, good organizer,
management skills (planning, organizing, implementing and controlling skills), works
transparently, work effectively, responsible and accountable for actions and work, etc.

1.3 Personal leadership development and career progression
The earlier analysis of my skills and competencies through Johri Window Model and personal
SWOT analysis though shows the that I am capable enough to work successfully as a consultant
in future; however, at the same time, the need of personal leadership development in career
progression is also identified. Moreover, I also believe that learning is a continuous process and
there always remain some space for improvement from which an individual can take benefit. As I
am currently studying my DBA degree, therefore, I have huge opportunity to learn the most from
my supervisors and fellow people. However, I can also take advantage of learning other relevant
courses and degrees relevant to consultancy from outside or external sources, i.e., workshops,
conferences, trainings, etc., provided by educational intuitions. Moreover, I can also work with a
consulting organization during my vacations or as part time to directly learn how the practical
consulting process goes. This will also help me to directly work under leader, or senior manager
at the consulting firm enabling me to increase my learnings and outcomes. On the other hand, I
also understand the need to acquire leadership traits and behaviours (Adair 2013). Though, I
possess most of them, however, I still need to acquire more as they will help me in my career
progression and in becoming future leader in the consultancy sector. For this, leadership
workshops, additional leadership courses and books can help to asses different qualities of leader
and learn how to acquire them.

2.0 Conclusion

In a nutshell, I could thus conclude that reflection on my employability enhancement and
leadership shows that there is still a long way and need to develop myself and take advantage of
the prevailing opportunities by increasing my strengths and overcoming my weaknesses. The
proposed development plan of acquiring consultancy skills and leadership traits and capabilities
will definitely help me in becoming a successful consultant and leader in the sector.
31

References

Adair, J 2013, Develop Your Leadership Skills, Kogan Page Publishers

Connor, Mary, Pokora and Julia 2012, Coaching And Mentoring At Work: Developing Effective
Practice: Developing Effective Practice, McGraw-Hill Education (UK)

Russell, J and Cohn, R 2012, Johari Window, Book on Demand