This paper is written in response to the question “What developments are taking place in systems?” as a contribution to the November 2006 Cybernetics Conference. The paper is based upon the assumption that what is meant by the question relates to research in an area of systems known as soft systems.
The paper begins with clarification about “Systems” and then the reader is taken on a personal journey through what are considered to be important contributions to soft systems research. The account includes reference to philosophical treatise on aspects relevant to some of the difficulties facing subjective research and some outcomes from research germane to the development of these ideas.
The paper recounts lessons learnt from the practice about the nature of undertaking soft systems research and whilst acknowledging that this research continues suggests that because of these soft systems has an intellectual and practical foundation.
Systems has become more contemplative about the nature of the world and how each one makes sense of it. Systems thinking and practice is no longer based solely on biological models but has a greater emphasis placed upon understanding and learning. Systems thinking now makes explicit that what comprises the whole is subjective but rigorous. The paper is of value to soft systems researchers and practitioners especially those who are attempting research/practice in which the clients are encouraged to participate in the process of learning.
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