Soft System Methodology: Conceptual Model Building and its Contribution
The area relevant to this publication is that known as Soft System Methodology (SSM) which first emerget into the public domain in 1981 through the book Systems Thinking, System Practice by Peter Checkland. This was followed in 1984 by my book System: Concepts, Methodology and Application (appearing as a second edition in 1990).
The essential difference between these two text was that Peter described SSM within context of the history and rational thought, i.e what the subject of SSM was. Mine was an attempt to describe ‘how to do it’ within the context of problem solving in general.
Thus SSM is a relatively young discipline and, prior to these publications and since, we have both had some thirty years of experience of trying to teach the subject and a similar period in applying and developing the ideas through consultancy. There has also been a significant amount of academic research but the strong tradition behind the development of the subject has always been action research'. It is this that is concerned with learning from the relationship between theory and practice and which leads to that learning that can be applied. This is important to me as an engineer and infiuences what I accept as a legitimate interpretation of the ideas and what I also observe as defensible practices.
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