May 20 is the twenty-sixth meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. The registration is on Eventbrite.
Theme: Systems Thinking and Appreciating Worldviews (Part 2)
The May session for Systems Thinking Ontario will continue the discussion on Soft Systems Methodology begun in the April 2015 session.
- Last time, we were working on SSM Step 2: "The Situation Defined", with a rich picture.
- This time, we will focus on SSM Step 3: "Root Definitions of Relevant Systems".
Here's the theme description from April:
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.
Tim Lloyd graciously volunteered to capture the progress made in April as a starting point for May.
As an aid to "where are we going, with SSM?", attendees may appreciate the three types of judgement made in an appreciative system, as described by Sir Geoffrey Vickers: reality judgements, value judgements, and instrumental judgements.
- Richard J. Varey, "Appreciative Systems: A summary of the work of Sir Geoffrey Vickers", University of Salford Working Paper, 1988, at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/252067023_Appreciative_Systems_A_summary_of_the_work_of_Sir_Geoffrey_Vickers.
Participants who did not attend the last meeting may want to catch up on the prior references.
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.
Bloggers are encouraged to write about their learning and experiences at the meeting. Links will be added to this page.