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...
- Emergent properties.
- Layered or hierarchical structure of systems.
- Processes of communication within the system.
- Process of control to react to changes in the system.
- to understand the world better
- to intervene to improve some part of it
- Natural systems
- Designed systems (both abstract and concrete)
- A connected set of human activities which are joined together to make a purposeful whole.
- They have been used extensively
- They have generated secondary literature
- They have been shown to be transferable from pioneers to other groups of users.
- Systems engineering
- RAND systems analysis
- Soft Systems methodology
- Critical heuristics
- System dynamics - used to model inventory by Forrester. Since been used to model climate change by Meadows et al
- 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)
- Appreciative systems - we discriminate based on previous experience. The source of the standards is the history of the system itself (Vickers)
- Interactive planning - central idea is to start from an imagined ideal future - then move as close to this ideal as possible. (Ackoff)
- Viable systems model - a viable system is defined by five sub systems (Beer)
- Autopoietic (self producing) model - Maturana & Varela