Soft System Methodology - Explained
What is the Soft System Methodology?
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Table of ContentsWhat is the Soft Systems Methodology? What are the Steps in the Soft Systems Methodology?
What is the Soft Systems Methodology?
The Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), developed by Peter Checkland, is a qualitative technique that applies Systems Thinking to non-systemic situations.
This approach is best used in problem situations that have a high social, political and human activity component.
What are the Steps in the Soft Systems Methodology?
The following are steps in the Soft System Methodology:
- Investigate the unstructured problem.
- Express the problem situation through "Rich Pictures”, which capture as much information as possible relating to the problem situation - including, boundaries, structure, information flows, communication channels, and human activity system.
- Identify Root Definitions of relevant systems. There are six elements that make a well formulated root definition. They are summed up in the acronym CATWOE:
- Customer. Everyone who may gain benefits from a system is considered as a customer of the system.
- Actor. The actors transform inputs into outputs and they perform the activities defined in the system.
- Transformation process. This is shown as the conversion of inputs to outputs.
- Weltanschauung. The German expression for world view. This world view makes the transformation process meaningful in context.
- Owner. Every system has some proprietor, who has the power to start up and shut down the system (power of veto).
- Environmental constraints. These are external elements that must be considered. These constraints include organizational policies as well as legal and ethical matters.
- Conceptual models.
- Formal system concept.
- Other system thinking.
- Compare the Conceptual Models with Rich Pictures
- Feasible, desirable changes.
- Action to improve the problem situation.