The Engagement Approach to Real-World Problem Solving: Towards a coherent Soft-Systems-based theoretical platform for real-world problem solving

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Houghton, L
Ledington, P
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Robert L Flood

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2004
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Abstract

This paper presents an approach to understanding problem solving and innovation from the perspective of engagement. The approach is derived primarily from two research projects undertaken over the last 5 years. The first one into the apparent Comparison Parado in Soft Systems Methodology, and the second an 18-month research program into the social reality implied by Soft Systems Methodology. Engagement is argued to be the innovation of a framework of ideas within a social context. In this sense engagement is an extension of the nature in which humans take ideas and place them inside a social context and use this as a platform to make sense of their environment and take action in such surroundings with an eye to understanding, learning, meaning, adaptation, innovation, and interpretation of such situations. Therefore, this paper presents a conjectured model of Engagement that is argued to be useful in helping to manage social complexity and real-world problem-solving activity. The paper positions engagement as a purely theoretical approach with multidisciplinary applications for whoever would like to use it.

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Systemic Practice and Action Research

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17

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5

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Environmental sciences

Information and computing sciences

Human society

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