Elevator pitch for the systems approach

In our working lives and beyond we are increasingly faced with ill-structured complexities that defy conventional problem solving methods. Underlying assumptions, scope, purposes, patterns, mechanisms, and their relevance or significance must be critically examined and so should the identification of people who can best contribute to this critique. A well-founded methodology for this is the dialectical systems approach of Churchman, an American philosopher and management scientist who lived from 1913 to 2004. A powerful step-by-step method for learning Churchman’s approach is described in “Wicked Solutions: a systems approach to complex problems.” This method provides (1) a common framework and vocabulary to (2) structure complex organizational and business problems and develop (3) innovative, effective ways to address them. It is (4) a highly generic approach suited to (5) a broad range of team learning conditions. It also introduces study participants to (6) critical and systems thinking and is well suited for (7) integration in secondary and tertiary curriculum. No student should leave college or university without a critical working knowledge of the general characteristics of ubiquitous ill-structured, wicked problems and one or more generic methods to address them. (First approximation, 181 words).


About Sjon van ’t Hof

Development professional who worked in rural development, tropical agriculture, and irrigation development in Chad, Zambia, Mali, Ghana, Mauritania, Israel, Burkina Faso, Niger, and the Netherlands in capacities ranging from project design and management to information management. Conducted missions to India, China, Kenya, and Bangladesh. Experience in the development and delivery of trainings in irrigation equipment selection, information literacy, Internet searching and database searching. Explores systems thinking in relation to international development, education, and management, with an ever stronger focus on the systems approach of C. West Churchman. Knowledgeable in tropical agriculture, project design and development economics, agricultural mechanization, irrigation, plant pathology, environmental degradation and protection, rural development. Co-authored "Wicked Solutions: a systems approach to complex problems", a book written by Bob Williams and Sjon van 't Hof. It was published in June 2014 and provides a practical way of dealing with wicked problems. Wicked problems are complex, ill-structured, human problem situations. This book will help you design an inquiry and intervention in such messy, wicked situations. It does so by guiding you through the steps and stages of a systemic process that addresses your own wicked problem. For more information, see https://csl4d.wordpress.com/ or http://www.bobwilliams.co.nz/Systems_Resources.html
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