Soft System Methodology - Explained
What is the Soft System Methodology?
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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.