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Mess and Difficulty – Difficulty


Ackoff defines difficulty as:

  1. Situation is bounded – possible to identify system(s) involved.
  2. Problem(s) easily identified.
  3. Possible solutions can be identified.
  4. Timescales are limited or predictable.
  5. Limited/known number of stakeholders and groups involved.

Both Hard and Soft systems have a cycle/iterative approach. Hard systems go into maintenance and back to requirements. Soft systems continually analyse problems.

Different views on Hard and Soft systems relationship:

  • Quite different & used for different purposes; another view is
  • They are on a continuum – commence analysis with Soft systems, after problems have been identified & solutions considered, Hard systems approaches could be implemented.
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