Sunday, January 6, 2008

Open System Thinking and Software Testing (1)

A former teacher of mine introduced me the Open System Theory (OST). Some part of those lessons kept me thinking as it was about finding the balance between Order and Chaos in organizations and identify their influence on some basic components of an organizations.
Thinking about this I noticed over the years that in test processes we also know some moments of creating order and still manage chaos. Mostly this is done using some formal test methods.

Perhaps there are some lessons we can learn about the way of Open System Thinking.

The Open System Theory was partly explained in the book: Organization Theory by V.K. Narayan and Raghu Nath. Though I didn't had the book anymore it triggered me on a quest on the internet.

What I found on the internet related to Open System Thinking are these figures (knowing not to be complete):

  • 1951: Kurt Lewin came with Force Field Analysis in Field Theory in Social Science

  • 1965: H.J. Leavitt based his Leavitt's model onto that in Applied organizational change in Industry

  • 1978: D. Katz & R.L. Kahn defined the model Open Systems in Theory in The Social psychology of organizations

  • 1980: D.A. Nadler & M.L. Tushman defined the model: Congruence Model in A model for diagnosis organizational hebahiour

  • 1992: W.W. Burke & G.H. Litwin defined the Burke-Litwin Casual Model in A casual model of Organizational performance and change

Some models are shown below to give an idea which direction I'm tending to follow.

A model introduced in 1978 by Katz & Kahn

Nadler & Tushman defined a model called Congruence Model (1980)

Burke-Litwin Casual Model:

In my opinion basically Open System Thinking is focusing on getting grip on organizational changes making not a direct link to different levels. In lessons related to Economics I was though about terms like Macro, Meso and Micro.
I will try to link these terms to Open System Thinking and Software Testing, it could be something like:

  • Micro level: Test Project
  • Meso level: Test Process
  • Macro level: Quality Assurance as part of an organization

Another idea is investigating looking to the Congruence model: Task & Formal Organizational Arrangements (Which might support creating Order) and Informal Organization & Individual (Which might lead to Chaos) how this can be translated in those levels.

Of course there are more roads which leads to Rome, an expectation I have on this quest is getting more information/ insight how testing can be separated from development methods and still fits in organizations.

The next article related to this post can be found on:
Open System Thinking and Software Testing (2)

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