Jackson's System of Systems Methodology (SOSM) framework presents a construct that enables one to begin to make sense of the broad array of approaches that claim to embrace the Systems Thinking paradigm.
Even with somewhat of an understanding of a number of the Systems Thinking models and methods I wondered why we needed so many. Jackson's framework provides a basis for understanding which approaches are likely to provide results in which contexts.
Systems are considered to be Simple or Complex. Simple you can imagine engineering. Complex you can only imagine developing an understanding of.
Participants are considered be Unitary, Pluralist, or Coercive based on the extent and degree to which they are aligned in terms of beliefs, goals, objectives, common interests, etc.
Unitary-Simple Systems provide a context within which Hard Systems Thinking approaches are likely to produce results.
Unitary-Complex Systems require dynamic approaches as they context is likely to overwhelm hard systems thinking approaches. Approaches that can deal with the dynamic complexity are appropriate.
For a Pluralist context, because the participants are not well aligned, the methods must seek to explore purpose as part of addressing the situation. These methods are collectively referred to as Soft Systems Methods.
In Simple Systems with Coercive Participants they're not likely to agree on much, if anything, and the best one can hope for is to promote fairness within the context.
With Complex Systems with Coercive Participants who are not likely to agree on much, if anything, the best one can hope to accomplish is a level of tolerance that promotes diversity.
Critical Systems Thinking proposes and integration of appropriate models and methods in the context where they are likely to promote results.
Now that we've identified where different models and methods are likely to be relevant, and what many of the models and methods are, what's the problem?
One gets the impression that to effectively address situations it is first necessary to study for several decades, or bring a whole flock of specialists in to deal with any particular situation. Does either approach sound attractive?