Keeping it Pure – A Pedagogical Case Study of Teaching Soft Systems Methodology in Scenario and PolicyAnalysis

Ian Yeoman, Una McMahon-Beattie, Carol Wheatley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Soft systems methodology (SSM) is well documented in the academic and managementliterature. Over the last 40 years, the methodology has come to be adapted depending on the tooluser’s skills and experience in order to fit the problem. This paper demonstrates from a pedagogicalperspective, good teaching and learning practice.Design/methodology/approach: Dr. Ian Yeoman of Victoria University of Wellington provides apersonal reflection of how the methodology is used in the teaching and learning of TOUR301Tourism Policy and Planning as a policy and scenario analysis method.Findings: The paper articulates the seven stages of Soft Systems Methodology from problemsituation unstructured, through to Rich Pictures, vision and guiding principles, policy solutions,comparisons, feasibility and implementation stages. The paper uses a series of teaching tasks tobreakdown the complexity of the methodology thus guiding students and teachers in how to deploythe methodology in the classroom.Originality/value: The value of the paper demonstrates the reflective practice of Soft SystemsMethodology in action as an exemplar of good practice. The paper clearly articulates the stages of themethodology so students and teachers can adopt this approach in classroom environments following ascaffolding learning approach. The use of teaching tasks throughout the paper helps bring clarity andorder thus enabling the teacher to effectively teach the subject and the students to learn. The mostsignificant contribution of this paper is the articulation of good teaching practice in policy andscenario analysis which is articulated through five learning lessons, 1) facilitating a learningenvironment 2) the impact of visual thinking 3) political theory and 4) the importance of incrementallearning 5) problem based learning and international students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-195
JournalJournal of Tourism Futures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 2016


  • Soft Systems Methodology
  • Scenario Analysis
  • Pedagogy
  • Futures
  • Tourism
  • Policy


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