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Soft systems arrive


Concept – 1970s, driven by Peter Checkland.

Checkland and Russell Ackoff acknowledged Hard Systems was mature but still problems where implemented and approach not always suitable.

Ackoff (1974) – messes – often not possible to soleve – and difficulties – something solvable.

Checkland – complexity, where involved, not always possible to identify. Involvement of humans – ‘soft’ issues – hard to analyse and manage.

Soft Systems – Hard Systems effective but cannot solve all problems where complexity and human involvement.

Soft Systems analyse situation to identify problem, Hard Systems start with problem already identified & solution agreed.

Hard Systems – create systems which physically exist or can be identified.

Soft Systems – no focus on identifying system but on analysing situation (system may not exist).


Ackoff.R.L, (1974), Redesigning the Future: A Systems Approach to Societal Problems, New York,
John Wiley

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