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

A basic conceptual framework for systems learning

Inter-relationships, boundaries, and perspectives revisited Last week I was struggling with three systems concepts: inter-relationships, perspectives and boundaries (IPB). All I was trying to do was to fill out a so-called IPB table to summarize my understanding of the stages … Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Policy argumentation

Mitroff’s operationalization of Churchman’s systems approach, part 2 I ended my previous post on Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing (SAST, based on Mason’s and Mitroff’s ‘Challenging strategic planning assumptions’)  with a paragraph on policy argumentation in which I explained that … Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing (SAST)

Mitroff’s ‘operationalization’ of Churchman’s systems approach, part 1 In table 12-3 (p. 301 of Mason’s and Mitroff’s ‘Challenging strategic planning assumptions’) major approaches to business problem solving are compared, including the systems approach and SAST (strategic assumption surfacing and testing), … Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Crisis management and the systems approach

The need for instilling crisis management capability in organizations Nobody has been promoting Churchman’s systems approach as well as Dr. Ian I. Mitroff. He did so in a variety of (indirect, practical) ways, but his most sustained effort is in … Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment

THE origins of THE systems approach

Tracing the tracks of C. West Churchman Last month I reread (and blogged) Churchman’s ‘The Systems Approach’ (1968) and was surprised to see that between the lines it contained practically the whole of the dialectical systems approach (the systems approach) … Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment

The whole systems enchilada

A dialectical total systems framework Every now and then I think I have disentangled the whole systems enchilada. By this (i.e. the term ‘whole systems enchilada’) I mean that I am convinced that the systems approach of Churchman hasn’t lost … Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment

A summary of ‘The Systems Approach’

This is a 15-paragraph overview of a series of 15 blogging posts, which covered the whole of Churchman’s The Systems Approach (TSA), a rather well-known book he wrote in 1968, of which I am convinced that it hasn’t lost any … Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment