Managing System Design, Managing System Change

Leyla Abdimomunova

By David Rosenbaum
August 9, 2010

How can organizations perform organizational assessment to better support enterprise transformation? Leyla Abdimomunova, who will graduate from MIT’s System Design and Management in September 2010, with a master’s in engineering and management, has conducted her thesis research to address this question.

Abdimomunova is working with the MIT Lean Advancement Institute’s (LAI) Lean Enterprise Self-Assessment Tool (LESAT). Organizations use LESAT to prepare for transformation by examining their effectiveness, efficiency, and viability, assessing their capabilities in leadership, product lifecycle processes, and support functions. Today, Adbimomunova is bringing her professional experience and SDM education in engineering, management, and systems thinking to create an assessment process that incentivizes an organization’s behavior and maximizes the assessment’s benefits.

Noting that Lean has come to be associated with the reengineering of manufacturing processes, Abdimomunova points out that the notion of Lean Enterprise applies to a broad range of industries. In healthcare, for example, "the goal is to deliver the best care. But right now, various departments in a hospital are often isolated from each other. That creates problems when patients receive conflicting treatments or undergo duplicate procedures. This drives up overall health care costs.

"Fixing this and helping healthcare and other organizations improve themselves, comes down to enterprise architecting – aligning the processes within an organization with its strategy, capabilities, and market conditions. It’s what we learn about in SDM."

Abdimomunova grew up in Kazakhstan where the economic and political system went through dramatic changes over the last two decades. Studying Mathematical Linguistics at St. Petersburg State University, she remembers fearing for her family’s safety during the riots of 1986 and people clutching food cards, waiting in endless lines to enter stores stocked only with empty shelves right before 1991, when the USSR fell.

"People weren’t ready" for a market economy, says Abdimomunova. "Under communism, the economic planning bureau, Gosplan, determined everything: how much should be produced; where it should be sold; the price." Joining the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development after receiving her MBA from the Indiana University Kelly School of Business, Abdimomunova worked equally with entrepreneurs and policy makers to ensure that companies are able to produce competitive products and services and that government policies create an environment that promotes capital investment and best business practices.

Abdimomunova came to MIT’s System Design and Management Program because she realized that the "financial grounding" her MBA provided was insufficient to affect change. She needed, she says, "to learn to look at problems from a holistic point of view, to understand how a change in one part of a system affects others."

Because she was not educated as an engineer, Abdimomunova said she had concern about coming to MIT. "On the first day of the program, I felt at a disadvantage because I was surrounded by engineers," she says. "But soon after classes started, I realized that I think like an engineer."

Leyla Abdimomunova
Photo by L. Barry Hetherington