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

An introduction to systems thinking

At the First Global Conference on Research and Implementation, held in Canberra, Australia, in September 2013, Gerald Midgley gave an introductory talk on systems thinking. Midgley is a British organizational theorist, professor of systems thinking, director of the Centre for … Continue reading

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A synthesis of systems, critical and design thinking

Better be armed to the teeth. It’s a mess, out there! It occurred to me last week that systems thinking, critical thinking and design thinking are just aspects of the same thing, which is humans trying to gain control over … Continue reading

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Design judgment and the particular

This post is on chapter 1 of the 2nd edition of The Design Way by Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman. It caps two previous ones on Jonathan Baron’s search-inference framework and rational action. In them I explained how rational … Continue reading

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Full transcription of 29-minute television interview with Bertrand Russell

I just finished the full transcript (PDF) of a 29-minute video interview (courtesy Manufacturing Intellect) with Bertrand Russell. ‘Bertrand Arthur William Russell (BR, 1872–1970) was a British philosopher, logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical … Continue reading

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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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