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Because systems theory can be used as a metatheory, particularized methodologies of systemics have emerged in various fields. Bertalanffy comments that the content is the same, what is different is the intentions.


Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) was developed by Peter Checkland as a generic systems approach to problem solving in Management. In its simple form, SSM is a progressive learning tool involving gathering information, defining concepts, developing conceptual models, comparing the models to the perceived reality and then action is taken accordingly. The process is recursive.

Fuenmayor extended SSM with his theory of Interpretive Systemology. In this interpretation, fact are not facts in themselves, but are interpretations. He writes: “The methodological search or knowledge is characterized by the modeling of various contexts of meaning, by explicitly interpreting the phenomenon with regard to such contexts of meaning and by discussing the various interpretations in the light of their respective contexts of meaning.”


Interactive Management is a decision-orientated disciplined inquiry seeking to resolve issues and situations that are beyond ordinary resolution techniques. The concept was developed by Warfield and Christakis in 1980 at the University of Virginia, one of the first design approaches to use computer software programs.

IM has three main phases, Definition, Design of alternatives and Choice of design. In the definition phase, context is defined and components are identified. Patterns of relationships are constructed and interpreted to gain understanding and insight. Based on the information gained, statements of context, sets of objectives and triggering questions guide the inquiry. Through dialogue, the collective best ideas of the participants emerge.

The second phase, prompted by triggering questions, generates options for design solutions. After the options have been clarified, they are categorized in an option field. If the option is deemed essential they become a design dimension. In the third phase, options are chosen from each dimension resulting in an “option profile.” Finally the design alternatives are described and evaluated with the use of tradeoff analysis methodology (TAM).

Relevant outcomes of IM include (1) participants are involved in significant learning experiences, (2) their involvement creates commitments to the choices made and (3) careful and detailed documentation enables wide distribution of findings available for continuing design. <ref> Banathy, Bela H. (1996) Designing Social Systems in a Changing World. Plenum Press, New YOur. ISBN 0-306-45251-0</ref>


Critical systems theory is a soft system methodology which tries to equalize the power inequities which often thwart SSM. Jackson writes “ privileged stakeholders (in terms of wealth, status, or power) are unlikely to risk their dominant position and submit their privileges to the vagaries of idealized design or whatever.”


Werner Ulrich sees science as the study of “contexts of application” .”<ref>Bausch KC (2000) The Emerging Consensus in Social Systems Theory. Kluwar Academics, New York p126</ref> He finds a problem between science and those affected by it. His concern about the coercive effects of pseudoscience. As in many other situations, the ideal circumstances might make an idealized system model work, but life is ill-defined. Ulrich has in mind those who are unwitting victims of ideological forces. Domination of one over the other “by forces other than that of the better argument. “Critical heuristics posits three requirements: (1) “a clear understanding of the unavoidability and critical significance of justification break-off’s; (1) a conceptual framework to identify effective breakoff’s of argumentation”; and (3) “a tool of cogent argumentation that would be available …to ordinary citizens.” “The systems movement will make a real contribution toward communicative systems rationalization if it puts the systems idea to work on the job of dealing critically with conditions of imperfect rationality” Ulrich advises.


Total Systems Intervention is described by Mike Jackson and R. Flood as a total systems approach to planning, designing, problem solving and evaluation. The TSI Process involves the learned use of metaphors to arrive at a select methodology or methodologies which will yield highly relevant and coordinated intervention and change necessary to address organizational concerns.

Three stages of the TSI Process include the creativity stage in which metaphors such as organization as a machine, or organism, or brain, or culture, or team, or coalition, or prison, leads to enhanced appreciation of key issues. The second stage is a choice of a dominant methodology to tackle the key issues. And the third is implementation. The process is systemic and iterative with continual reference back to other phases of the process.


“ISM is a heuristic to provide actors in organizations with requisite variety, developed by Schwaninger [1997]. It advocates (a) dealing with both content- and context-related issues, and (b) placing a stronger emphasis on the validation of qualitative and quantitative models, as well as strategies, in both dimensions: content and context. For this purpose, the tools of SD (to model content)and Management Cybernetics – the VSM (to model context) - are cogently integrated.” Coparticipative Design Viable Systems modeling Expert systems An expert system is a computer program designed in the technical perspective which is able to solve problems similar to how a group of experts might solve the problem. From the conversations of knowledge engineers, relevant data is used to produce production rules used to work with the data to produce useful conclusions.

Reconstrucbility Analysis Management science Interactive Management Architecture of Complexity


John Warfield, in his book Understanding Complexity, Thought and Behavior, writes about a program centered on the relationships among the elements of a complexity. He calls this the “Work Program of Complexity”, designed to illuminate the perplexity of complexity through “learning”. The program has two fundamental thrusts, one toward discovery and the other toward resolution. Discovery has two thrusts: description and diagnosis. Resolution has two also, planning and implementation. The program uses Interactive Management principles to enable a group to come to grips with a problem.

The most difficult step is the first step, that of description. Fraught with pitfalls, killer assumptions, lack of foundational principles, dominant personalities, and the like, bringing all the contributing factors into the open requires considerable effort. Warfield uses groups and idea generators to submit viewpoints directed toward a Trigger Question After clarification and authenticity, the listing of contributions is interrelated into a Problematique A “Problematique” is a modeling using a combination of prose and graphics, permitting a view of all the aspects in a relationship. Prose alone is inadequate to express systemic relationships. If the number of elements in a problem field is large, seeing all of them together is usually enlightening.

Once the Problematique is created, and presented in an observatorium in such a manner to be worthy of the work involved, a diagnosis is formed, a plan devised, and then implemented.


“A systems view enfolds large sets of concepts that constitute principles common to all kinds of systems, that are manifested in multiple connotations, such as the way we can think (systems thinking), the way we understand phenomena (having a systems perspective), and characterize an entity (systems discription) the way an entity behaves (systems behavoir) and the way we might do things (systems practice). … Having a systems view of education, for example, means that we can think about education as a system, we can understand and describe it as a system, we can design education so that it manifests systems behavoir, and we can engage in educational inquiry by using approaches and methods of systems practice”<ref>Banathy, Bela H., (1992) A Systems View of Education; Concepts and Principes for Effective Practice. Educational Technology Publications, New Jersey.ISBN 0-87778-245-8</ref>

particular_systemic_intentions.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/31 23:55 (external edit)