Critical Systems Heuristics

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Emancipatory systems thinking

Critical Systems Heuristics belongs to the Emancipatory systems approaches, as defined by its creator, Werner Ulrich, and also in the mind of others, such as Mike Jackson, as revealed in his System of Systems Methodologies (SOSM).

By emancipatory, it is meant that the methodology allows its users to challenge prevailing views and emancipate, liberate themselves from oppression of these views.

Yet, Ulrich himself advocates CSH to be used in other contexts as well, indeed, with any other approach where a critique of boundaries may be useful. So, CSH isn't dedicated to social context.

Boundary critique

CSH is mainly about critique and analysis of boundaries of system. This allows, according to Ulrich:

  1. To identify boundary judgments systematically;
  2. To analyse alternative reference systems for defining a problem or assessing a solution proposal; and
  3. To challenge in a compelling way any claims to knowledge, rationality or ‘improvement’ that rely on hidden boundary judgments or take them for granted.

For this purpose, CSH provides a framework of boundary categories supporting 12 critical boundary questions (see link to introduction by Ulrich below).

CSH Perspective from Geoff McDonnell

Fig. 1 - CSH Perspecitve [IM-1218]

Comments to Geoff McDonnell


Additional Resources
Systems Thinking World Discussions * Gene Bellinger
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