Sunday, 17 June 2012

...And then there's Checkland

This reading is called "systems" and was published by Checkland in 1997.

Honestly, this is going to read a bit like a boring list - and I like a list as much as the next man - but this categorisation might be taking things a little far... Still, I think this reading was chosen for us as it imparts a great deal of basic systems understanding quickly!

So, onto Checkland. He says that systems thinking is a meta-discipline a language which can be used to talk about the subject matter of any other discipline.

In order to fulfil the definition of a system, the thing must have the following four fundamental attributes...

  1. Emergent properties.
  2. Layered or hierarchical structure of systems.
  3. Processes of communication within the system.
  4. Process of control to react to changes in the system.
There are, in Checkland's view of the world, two possible purposes and reasons to apply systems thinking to a situation...
  1. to understand the world better
  2. to intervene to improve some part of it
There are simplistically, three broad categories of systems
  1. Natural systems
  2. Designed systems (both abstract and concrete)
  3. A connected set of human activities which are joined together to make a purposeful whole.
There is a division between hard systems and soft systems. I think, fundamentally, a hard system approach focuses on the system it's self, and how to fix it, whilst a soft systems approach focuses on the system that is used to inquire into the system of interest (hence meta discipline). Soft systems methodology is a learning system.

Checkland then highlights systems methodologies that he identified as meeting the following criteria:
  • They have been used extensively
  • They have generated secondary literature
  • They have been shown to be transferable from pioneers to other groups of users.
Then, this gets a little complicated... he says he will pick these out, and then picks out two lists. For the purposes of my notes, I'm going to create just one list! 

  1. Systems engineering
  2. RAND systems analysis
  3. Soft Systems methodology
  4. Critical heuristics
  5. System dynamics - used to model inventory by Forrester. Since been used to model climate change by Meadows et al
  6. Socio technical systems - viewing an organisation (in this case, coal mining industry) as an open system in interaction with its environment. (technology, social systems and environment are interdependent) (Trist et al 1963)
  7. Appreciative systems - we discriminate based on previous experience. The source of the standards is the history of the system itself (Vickers)
  8. Interactive planning - central idea is to start from an imagined ideal future - then move as close to this ideal as possible. (Ackoff)
  9.  Viable systems model - a viable system is defined by five sub systems (Beer)
  10. Autopoietic (self producing) model - Maturana & Varela
Not entirely sure what this list is for... but it's nice to have!

No comments:

Post a Comment