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Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

1. Introduction

Abstract
Managing information is something we do all our lives. It is possibly because we do it so often that we do not reflect on what exactly it is. Life is already complicated enough and so overcomplicating it with unnecessary self-reflection is something we inherently avoid. That is all well and good, provided that is we are not accountable for our actions, or are not actively involved in assessing these actions to evaluate possible changes. Most of the time intuitive action is enough. However, there are times when we need more than this, and that is when accountable frameworks, which can stand the criticism of enquiry, are needed. Currently it seems that many models of information management are being used without that critical enquiry, and some rather limiting models of both information and its management are dominating our thoughts and actions.
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

The learning process of soft systems methodology

Frontmatter

2. Soft systems methodology: An illustrative study

Abstract
The opening chapter presented soft systems methodology as an approach to managing information. This section of the book introduces the methodology. In essence, the whole book expands soft systems methodology, and this chapter gives a first view of it. This means that the reader can get a general understanding of it before journeying into the detail that the rest of the book provides. Throughout the book a version of the methodology is followed which is the most commonly known. This is the version of the methodology seen as a seven-stage model, as is shown in figure 2.1, below. This version is merely a metaphor to describe a complex set of actions which is called soft systems methodology. That metaphor is an ideal type in that it is not the way any real world use of the methodology is likely to look, but rather it is a model to provide guidelines for action. This distinction between the methodology in principle and the methodology in practice is discussed throughout this book, but most fully in chapter 7.
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

3. Problem situations

Abstract
We are now moving on to look at soft systems methodology in detail. This particular chapter deals with the first part of any learning process, the initial finding out phase. In order to learn, we must enquire and this means analyzing the situation as it stands. This is probably the most demanding part of any learning process. It is here that what is informative, and what is not, is continually being negotiated between individuals in that situation. It is where relevant information is constructed so that the situation can be appreciated. This chapter deals with ways in which this can be achieved within the framework of the methodology.
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

Soft systems modelling

Frontmatter

4. Modelling human activity systems: root definitions of relevant systems

Abstract
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 cover the core technical activities involved in soft systems methodology that are concerned with generating and using models of human activity systems. This chapter focuses upon the methods and techniques involved in the first stage of generating systems models, and is concerned with the process of formally describing an activity system in the form of a root definition. The aim of this chapter is to provide a guide to producing root definitions which are both,
a)
potentially relevant to the problem situation, and
 
b)
rigorously expressed.
 
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

5. Modelling human activity systems: generating models

Abstract
This chapter covers the processes involved in moving from a root definition to a conceptual model of a human activity system. The areas covered in this chapter correspond to concept 4 of soft systems methodology. See figure 5.1 below.
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

6. Comparison

Abstract
All the hard work involved in choosing, naming and modelling human activity systems is just the foundation for the most important part of the methodology — the comparison. The modelling process has produced an ideal concept of the activities involved in carrying out some organized action which is thought to be relevant to the problem situation. The model provides a framework for taking a detailed look at the situation and for asking to what extent there are similarities and differences between the model and the situation. Assessing and evaluating these similarities and differences may suggest potential areas for change in the situation. On the other hand a comparison might suggest that a different perspective on the situation is required and hence point towards directions in which new relevant systems should be sought before starting the modelling cycle once again.
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

Reflections

Frontmatter

7. Using the methodology

Abstract
The preceding chapter has gone into some detail to describe the systemically desirable aspects of comparison. Looking at the seven-stage model of soft systems methodology as shown in figure 2.1, we see that the analysis of comparison cuts across stages five and six. This is the problem with the seven-stage model. It does not make separations which are always useful between the sets of activities. The revised model of the methodology as shown in figure 2.2 is of more use when considering where we are now in relation to the methodology. We have just dealt with comparison of the models with the perceived real situation and are now moving on to the phase dealing with action needed to improve the situation. Going back to the seven-stage model shows that we have not yet considered culturally feasible change. This chapter deals with considerations of change, particularly culturally feasible change, and attention is paid to action and how it may be achieved.
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

8. Reflections on the learning process

Abstract
By the time the reader has reached this part of the book, it is hoped that a great deal of learning about soft systems methodology has occurred. It is also hoped that the learning will not stop with reading through the book once, but will carry on and encourage the reader as learner to return to it. Soft systems methodology is a framework for understanding a learning process which is iterative in nature, that is, the path of the steps of the methodology can be returned to many times to take the learning journey again. This book is intended to be taken in the same light. The book has taken the reader through a great many new concepts, both in nature and in technique. Concepts do not enter the appreciative act without a continual reflection. It is hoped that the continual process of learning about the methodology in use and in theory will have started by now, but will not finish here. To help that iterative process, this final chapter reflects on the learning process which has been presented in the book.
Lynda Davies, Paul Ledington

Backmatter

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