"Thirty years ago Peter Checkland set out to test whether the Systems Engineering (SE) approach, highly successful in technical problems, could be used by managers coping with the unfolding complexities of organizational life." "The straightforward transfer of SE to the broader situations of management was not possible, but by insisting on a combination of systems thinking strongly linked to real-world practice Checkland and his collaborators developed an alternative approach - Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) - which enables managers of all kinds and at any level to deal with the subtleties and confusions of the situations they face." "This work established the now accepted distinction between 'hard' systems thinking, in which parts of the world are taken to be 'systems' which can be 'engineered', and 'soft' systems thinking in which the focus is on making sure the process of inquiry into real-world complexity is itself a system for learning." "Now Peter Checkland has looked back over the three decades of SSM development, brought the account of it up to date, and reflected on the whole evolutionary process which has produced a mature SSM."--Jacket.