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

It’s a wicked problem, stupid! (revisited)

A bit over 5 years ago I first learned about wicked problems. So I looked at the oft-cited seminal article by Rittel & Webber of 1973 and tried to make sense of it (see old post). There was a lot of … Continue reading

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Human teleology in Plessner’s philosophical anthropology

The double aspectivty of human eccentric positionality Philosophical anthropology          Why would a blog on systems thinking be concerned with philosophical anthropology? Because systems thinkers themselves claim that systems thinking, including systemic design, may be traced to the origin of man. … Continue reading

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Concept mapping the state of the world

The view of Van Kappen, former advisor of Kofi Annan Yesterday I listened to a 20-minute radio item about current threats to world peace or what is left of it. The show can be listened to online here (in Dutch, … Continue reading

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Soft operational analysis (OA)

Contrasting soft OA with Churchman’s systems approach It is not often that I come across a concept map in a systems book. In fact, in the more than six years that I have studied soft systems thinking, in particular Churchman’s … Continue reading

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The uncertainty triangle

I am currently reading the “Analyst-Oriented Volume: Code of Best Practice for ‘Soft’ Operational Analysis” of the “NATO Guide for Judgement-Based Operational Analysis in Defence Decision Making”, which was published in 2012 and is available here. The guide is the … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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Meaningfulness as key systems dimension

Or how to fit humans in systems thinking fittingly There is a lot of talk about social systems design and human systems approaches in this blog, but the human dimension seems to be missing sometimes. While exploring the question of … Continue reading

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