The capacity to put any systems approach into context is based on the ability of a practitioner to appreciate their own traditions of understanding and to make connections with the history of particular systems methods or methodologies, or to formulate their own. Above all, there is a need to learn from using them and to achieve outcomes that are agreed by those involved as worthwhile. This is a level of systems practice to which you can aspire. Because most systems practice is carried out in some institutional setting your ability to contextualise an approach will also be helped if you appreciate it is not only people who have epistemologies but institutions as well. All institutions hold conceptions of what counts as legitimate knowledge, which determines how individuals are able to claim what they know. These epistemologies are built into institutional structures and practices.
What I hope is clear is that an aware systems practitioner does not force a method on to a context, a ‘real world’ situation, to which it is not suited.
You should now be able to:
- explain the role of methods, methodologies, approaches and tools, techniques and skills as applied to systems thinking in practice and exemplified by the soft systems methodology.
Next week, you will consider what form of systems thinking in practice you want to adopt and why you made that choice as well as how you intend to develop as a systems practitioner.
You can now go to Week 8.