15 years a manager concerned with innovation in the manufactured fiber industry. Then he joined Lancaster University, where he has led the action research program which developed Soft Systems Methodology.
Varieties of systems thinking: The case of soft systems methodology
Article first published online: 26 DEC 2006
Copyright © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
System Dynamics Review
Volume 10, Issue 2-3, pages 189–197, Summer - Autumn (Fall) 1994
How to Cite
Checkland, P. B. and Haynes, M. G. (1994), Varieties of systems thinking: The case of soft systems methodology. Syst. Dyn. Rev., 10: 189–197. doi: 10.1002/sdr.4260100207
- Issue published online: 26 DEC 2006
- Article first published online: 26 DEC 2006
- Manuscript Received: JAN 1994
A number of ways of intervening rationally in human affairs are based on systems thinking: understanding real-world complexity via systems ideas. This article reviews the development of systems thinking and focuses on one of the systems approaches: Soft Systems Methodology (SSM). It indicates how SSM embodies systems thinking by giving an account of the crucial steps in the thinking as SSM developed. Issues in current work are reviewed by setting out a number of experientially derived generalizations. These concern: SSM as an ideal-type process that the user suitably adapts on each occasion of use; the fact that SSM's systemicity lies primarily in the process of inquiry; the fact that its focus is the interaction between theory and practice; the implicit belief behind SSM that learning is axiomatically good; and the belief that SSM is best used participatively.