The Thinking Space: The Enactment of a Platform for Critical Systems Practice
Keywords:Plaforms, Thinking Space, transferable problem-solving capability
This paper focuses on describing the process of enactment of a ‘platform’, namely, The Thinking Space (TS), as a device for Critical Systems Practice CSP. This is part of a research project that generated a series of findings contributing to the study of the process whereby different systems methodologies, methods, tools and techniques are used in combination. This process is known as Critical Systems Practice (CSP). The study yielded ‘defensible generalisations’ from a series of research themes explored. These defensible generalisations or contributions relate to three research issues relevant to CSP, namely, (a) pluralism, (b) improvement, and (c) the role of the agent. The learning derived from these research themes led the researcher to formulate the ‘transferable problem solving capability’ of the study: the enactment of ‘platforms’ as devices for operationalising CSP. Platforms are defined as ‘organisational and intellectual spaces’ enacted by actors and evolving with the changing nature of actors’ moment-to-moment interactions, by means of engaging in a continuous mutual research endeavour and of engaging in enhancing collective competence, in order to pursue an informed practice (to pursue CSP).
The study is the result of reflection and debate, which has been reciprocally enriched by theory and practice. The project was not undertaken to falsify a hypothesis but rather to suggest a path towards developing new understanding on agents’ operationalisation of critical systems thinking concepts and ideas. It presents the findings of an organisation-based action research project, where the researcher entered into a real-world situation and aimed both at improving it and acquiring knowledge about the experience. He became, for a period of three years, involved in the flux of ‘real-world problems’ within an engineering company that invited him to do research by using systems ideas in practice.
This paper thus recapitulates on the contributions that this research endeavour had on the three research themes focusing on the emergence of a particular platform, the Thinking Space (TS), as a device for operationalising CSP; the fourth ‘emergent’ research theme. Concerning the ‘transferable problem solving capability’ of the study, the TS is one particular device considered to provide evidence for proposing the research theme of ‘platforms’.