Soft systems of life

Watching the ‘Sankaran & Stevens | How do project managers benefit from systems thinking?’ video it is briefly explained what hard systems thinking is; breaking down a task through analytics, and where it was originally used: construction industry. Then Sankaran explains soft systems thinking; problems which have human activity systems, where people are involved. Project management has shifted from hard systems to soft systems. The organization structure influences the way in which project managers work. Project management has come out of the harder part of business, but now there is a need to manage the unexpected, and be able to change the direction half way during the project, which is not possible in construction industry. Project based organization where the entire team works together to complete a task. Teams brought together for a temporary change. Work on need to improve the business. Coordination type of relationship can change within the business structure. Leadership and mentoring is about the relationship between the project team and the sponsor and the corporate board of the organization. There is more leverage to be gained by focusing on governance, rather than on the processes and procedures. If the effort is focused on governance there is a greater reduction in project failures.

Dr John Mackness in Soft Systems Methodology mentions that: Soft systems is all about people, the way they think and the way they relate to one another. We can apply soft systems to relationships, objects, and people working together in an organization. It can lead us through a process of thinking about where we are, thinking about where we might be, and how to act in certain situations.

These are mainly quotes or conclusions I drew from the mentioned multimedia, but they help me a lot to put some events in my life into perspective. As these soft systems methodologies often happen without actively pursuing them, it could often go ‘right’ without trying to remain between the borders. However soft and flexible these borders might be, they have been somewhat defined by the creation of soft systems. Projects don’t always run so smoothly though, which might be lead back to the lack of this kind of methodology. Therefor it is important that all members involved in the process are aware of the main outlines of the approach, and stick to those “rules”. When this happens the process will not go properly, or it will fail altogether. In order to ensure a decent outcome for the project, the team members should be on the same line, “all noses should be in the same direction” as we would say in Dutch.  

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