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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Soft Systems Thinking, Methodology and the Management of Change

ISBN 9781137432698
Publication Date September 2017
Formats Ebook Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

What is Soft Systems Methodology? How can it help make sense of complex business scenarios, providing solutions to challenging problems?

Soft Systems Thinking, Methodology and the Management of Change identifies the challenges encountered by practitioners of SSM and provides the means of overcoming them.

Featuring a unique prologue tracing the history of Systems Engineering back to its beginning in Lancaster in 1966, this authoritative text reflects on the evolutionary process of arguably the most significant research programme on the use of systems ideas in problem solving. It explores how this branch of systems-based thinking is applied and brings SSM firmly into the modern day.

Key benefits:
• Written by one of the major developers of SSM
• Demonstrates the use of Conceptual Model Building
• Includes a range of in-depth case studies and gives real-world guidance on the use of SSM

Brian Wilson was a founding member of the Systems Department at Lancaster University in 1966, where he participated with Professor Peter Checkland in the 'Action Research' of the Department, which led to the emergence of Soft Systems Methodology. The Action Research programme involved working with over 300 organisations in which teams of staff and students effectively acted as consultants to those organisations. Thus for this period and later, when running his own consultancy company, Brian has been involved in the application and development of SSM-related ideas within the real world.

Kees van Haperen is a consultant specialising in the effective implementation within organisations of Soft Systems Methodology. He is currently a visiting lecturer at Loughborough University, UK. He has published a number of papers and book contributions in the fields of crisis management, risk management, organisational learning, requirements management and systems thinking.

2. Organisational Analysis
3. An Overview of Soft Systems Methodology
4. Features of Soft Systems Methodology
PART II: Advanced Concepts 5. A Publishing System
6. A Policing System
7. A Healthcare System
8. An Employment Agency
9. Defence Systems
10. A Centre of Excellence
11. A Government System
12. Other Government Depertments
13. A Charity
14. Generic Reference Models
15. Information Assurance
16. Summary
PART III: CASE STUDIES 17. General Considerations
18. Aiding Good Practice
19. Systems Thinking and Macro Issues
20. The Judiciary
21. Healthcare
22. Policing
23. Defence
24. Conclusions.


This book is bang up to date with diverse and challenging case material from financial crisis to military threats - no other current book rivals its rich content and insights into analysis and problem solving. The process of SSM is strikingly detailed. It is an excellent source for teaching for both postgraduates and undergraduates and for practitioner reference. I will use this book in my University teaching, my research and my international consultancy.' – Mike Walsh, Stirling University Management School, UK
'This book is an important addition to the literature on soft systems methodology from one of the originators of the approach. It is of particular value to practitioners, containing numerous examples of well-formulated root definitions and complex conceptual models and their use in a variety of live consultancy projects.' – Mike Jackson, University of Hull, UK
'Wilson and van Haperen offer a comprehensive treatment of the ideas underpinning Soft Systems Thinking. Their work clarifies the actual practice of Soft System Methodology for those seeking to manage complexity in the real world. This book is a rare achievement that I suspect will become a classic for students, academics and practitioners alike.' – Alberto Franco, Loughborough University, UK
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