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The analysis, synthesisand proving parts of the approach assume a problem or opportunity has been identified and agreed upon and that a "new" engineered system solution is needed.
However, the systems approach does not have to apply to the development and use of a newly designed and built technical solution. Abstract or experimental solutions to potential problems might be explored to help achieve agreement on a problem context.
Solutions may involve reorganizing existing system of systems SoS contexts or the modification or re-use of existing products and services. The problem and opportunity parts of the approach overlap with soft system approaches.
This is discussed in more detail below. One thing that must be considered in relation to system complexity is that the opportunity situation may be difficult to fully understand; therefore, system solutions may not solve the problem the first time, but is still useful in increasing the understanding of both problem issues and what to try next to work toward a solution.
Hence, problem exploration and identification is often not a one-time process that specifies the problem, but is used in combination with solution synthesis and analysis to progress toward a more complete understanding of problems and solutions over time see Applying the Systems Approach for a more complete discussion of the dynamics of this aspect of the approach.
Problem Exploration Soft system thinking does not look for "the problem", but considers a problematic situation. If a full soft systems intervention is undertaken, such as a soft systems methodology SSM Checklandit will not include formal analysis, synthesis, and proving.
However, the SSM method was originally based on hard methodologies, in particular one presented by Jenkins It follows the basic principles of a systems approach: Often, the distinction between hard and soft methods is not as clear cut as the theory might suggest.
Checkland himself has been involved in applications of SSM as part of the development of information system design Checkland and Holwell It is now agreed upon by many that while there is a role for a "pure soft system" approach, the service and enterprise problems now being tackled can only be dealt with successfully by a combination of soft problematic models and hard system solutions.
Mingers and White Mingers and White give a number of relevant examples of this. In particular they reference "Process and Content: It is likely in the future that engineered system problems will be stated, solved, and used as part of a predominately soft intervention, which will place pressure on the speed of development needed in the solution space.
This is discussed more fully in the topic Life Cycle Models. The critical systems thinking and multi-methodology approaches Jackson take this further by advocating a "pick and mix" approach, in which the most appropriate models and techniques are chosen to fit the problem rather than following a single methodology Mingers and Gill Thus, even if the hard problem identification approach described below is used, some use of the soft system techniques such as rich pictures, root definitions, or conceptual models should be considered within it.
Problem Identification Hard system thinking is based on the premise that a problem exists and can be stated by one or more stakeholders in an objective way. This does not mean that hard systems approaches start with a defined problem.
Exploring the potential problem with key stakeholders is still an important part of the approach.
According to Blanchard and Fabrycky Blanchard and Fabrycky, defining a problem is sometimes the most important and difficult step. In short, a system cannot be defined unless it is possible to clearly describe what it is supposed to accomplish. According to Edson Edson, there are three kinds of questions that need to be asked to ensure we fully understand a problem situation.
First, how difficult or well understood is the problem? The answer to this question will help define the tractability of the problem.
For tame problems, the solution may be well-defined and obvious. Regular problems are those that are encountered on a regular basis. Their solutions may not be obvious, thus serious attention should be given to every aspect of them. Wicked problems Rittel and Webber cannot be fully solved, or perhaps even fully defined.
Additionally, with wicked problems, it is not possible to understand the full effect of applying systems to the problem. Next, who or what is impacted?
There may be elements of the situation that are causing the problem, elements that are impacted by the problem, and elements that are just in the loop.Understanding Geology through Maps guides young professional geologists and students alike in understanding and interpreting the world’s dynamic and varying geological landscapes through the liberal use of visual aids including figures, maps, and diagrams.
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