System thinking, problem solving as learning (Checkland, 1981)

25 October 2010

Regarded as a whole, the soft systems methodology is a learning system which uses systems ideas to formulate basic mental acts of four kinds: perceiving (stages 1 and 2), predicating (stages 3 and 4), comparing (stage 5), and deciding on action (stage 6). The output of the methodology is thus very different from the output of hard systems engineering: it is learning which leads to a decision to take certain actions, knowing that this will lead not to “the problem” being now “solved” but to a changed situation and new learning …

Overall, the stages of the methodology for work on ill-defined problems (which do not have to be followed in fixed sequence) constitute a learning system, a system which finds things out in a situation which at last one person regards as problematic. For ill-structured problems involving a number of people the very idea of “a problem” which can be “solved” has to be replaced by the idea of dialectical debate, by the idea of problem-solvlng as a continuous, never-ending process.

(Checkland, 1981, p. 17)

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Checkland on problem solving as learning (Checkland, 1981)

25 October 2010

There are no absolute positions to be reached in the attempt by men to understand he world in which they find themselves: new experience may in the future refute present conjectures. So the work itself must be regarded as an on-going system of a particular kind: a learning system which will continue to develop ideas, to test them out in practice, and to learn from the experience gained.

(Checkland, 1981, p. xii)