April 15 is the twenty-fifth meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration is on Eventbrite.
Theme: Systems Thinking and Appreciating Worldviews
When change is systemic, rather than incremental, friction may arise from (a variety of) prior ways of thinking about situations. Every individual has a different worldview that may or may not be visible to others. Attempting to "solve" a "problem" often reveals a more complex "system of problems", known either as a problematique or a mess.
Soft Systems Methodology, initiated and developed by Peter Checkland, is a 7-stage inquiry for a group to develop shared appreciations that can lead to action.
As an case exercise on which to try out SSM, we will work through some of the 7 stages by role-playing parties involved in a current situation. MaRS had developed a Systems Change initiative on Entrepreneurial Thinking. For the benefit of students, MaRS has created an Entrepreneurial Thinking Toolkit for K-12 Educators, and has been engaging with teachers in the Toronto District School Board on ways that the materials could be used. In addition, MaRS is offering Future Leaders Bootcamp for Teens five day sessions for two cohorts in July.
As a special guest for this April session, we will have Joe Wilson from MaRS. Joe is currently working as an Education Advisor at MaRS Discovery District, working with education technology entrepreneurs. He developed the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshop Series, and consults on a wide range of educational programming.
Since SSM has multiple stages and our April meeting time is limited, we should expect to continue this topic into May (and potentially even into June).
As a streamlined workshop outline, Bob Williams (a New Zealand-based practitioner in the evaluation community) had developed a helpful document that we can follow.
- "Soft Systems Methodology" (workshop for The Kellogg Foundation) | Bob Williams | December 2005 | Systems Resources at http://bobwilliams.co.nz/Systems_Resources_files/ssm.pdf
Optionally, participants might like the INCOSE UK zGuide (a double-sized foldable PDF)
- "zGuide 4: SSM -- Soft Systems Methodology" | Brian Wilson | March 2009 at http://www.incoseonline.org.uk/Program_Files/Publications/zGuides_4.aspx
A comprehensive description of SSM is available, if a reader is interested in the 51-page version:
- Peter Checkland and John Poulter. 2010. “Soft Systems Methodology.” In Systems Approaches to Managing Change: A Practical Guide, edited by Martin Reynolds and Sue Holwell. London: Springer London. doi: 10.1007/978-1-84882-809-4_5, searchable at http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=11958224699358905611.
For more on history (and less on methodology), Peter Checkland spoke on the originals of SSM at the Lancaster University Management School in April 2012.
Participants should not feel limited to this suggested pre-reading, but should recognize that other attendees may have not read, or are reading differently, that article.
Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.