Author Archives: Sjon van ’t Hof

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 or

Rationality and thinking (Baron ctd.)

This post continues the one on Baron’s search-inference framework (here). It follows chapters 2 and 3 of Baron’s textbook (1994 edition) on human decision-making entitled Thinking and Deciding. I will make references to critical thinking and systems thinking where appropriate. … Continue reading

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Baron’s search-inference framework

Last year, I read Mitroff’s “Rethinking the Education Mess”. Chapter 7, entitled ‘General heuristics for coping with the education mess’, discusses 19 heuristics to cope with such a mess. He doesn’t use the dialectical framework of Churchman’s systems approach as … Continue reading

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RAAKS: an institutional innovation methodology

Reconfiguring organizations to generate richer innovations About 8 years ago, when I was still working at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, I produced – with some expert help – an online dossier on ‘rural innovation systems’ (RIS), which is … Continue reading

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Notes to video interview with Churchman

In one of my last blog posts I added a link to my transcript of a two-hour video interview with C. West Churchman, a well-known American systems philosopher. I said that the interview could serve as an introduction to Churchman’s … Continue reading

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Climate change and the systems approach

Yesterday morning (July 11, 2018) I read an interview (sorry, in Dutch) with René ten Bos in Trouw, a Dutch newspaper, about the Dutch Climate Agreement of July 10, 2018. It contained a couple of references to the private sector … Continue reading

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C. West Churchman: a biographical concept map

Biographical summary      Churchman was born in Philadelphia (1) from Catholic parents in 1913. He was educated at Germantown Friends School in the Quaker tradition (2). As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania he was taught ethics (3) … Continue reading

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Full transcription of 2-hour video interview with C. West Churchman

Two days ago I posted a partial transcription of a 2-hour video interview with C. West Churchman. Today I completed the full transcription, so here it is, in PDF format (updated July 6, 2018). The interview can serve as an introduction … Continue reading

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