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Save Time, Money and Bloodshed with Soft System Discovery

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We've all been part of those projects. The kick-off meeting goes well. Then the wheels fall off the bus with designers fighting developers and both hating the SEO. Stop the madness with Soft System …

We've all been part of those projects. The kick-off meeting goes well. Then the wheels fall off the bus with designers fighting developers and both hating the SEO. Stop the madness with Soft System Discovery a prescriptive method that delivers a shared vision of success.

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  • Unstructured problems are the bane of technology’s existenceSSM moves away from Problem=Absolute solution to Situation that is problematic and evolving – requires thinking that evolvesReal life problems that are rarely staticEnables participants to clarify interests and predicaments
  • Sometimes you have it…If you are luckyUsually just a kick off meeting disguised as discovery
  • IR systems have built in functional complexity to accommodate multiple aggregators and actors that are opaque to users (black box)The information system has the role of supplying knowledge and is not always the sole supplier of outputRole of knowledge support of specific actionInformation System/Soft System: information as socially constructedInformation Engineering: information as a concrete phenomenaProblem solving encompasses system, cultural and strategic concernsSSM incorporates system learning and experiential learning and applies to problem-solving
  • Intersection and Transformation of SSM: Mathiassen, Lars, Neilsen, Asid (2000)Idea is that there would be better systems of IT professionals had better understanding of the scope, nature, impact of the systemUser experience will be better if UX professionals have a better understanding of scope, nature and impact of designs on IT (there are always trade offs)
  • Soft System Methodology: A Thirty Year Retrospective: Peter Checkland (2000)Engineers struggle with how to incorporate this human element into their system design. Needed a way to deal with this complexity of real situations.Clients struggle with how to attract and retain customersWe struggle with how to understand our client issues, environments, methods and infrastructure.
  • SSM is about cycles of discussion, learning and debate – unlike IT system thinking that looks for absolute complete solution every timeSSM uses system and psychological foundations to develop models of human behavior – measurement of these models is problematic because not always quantitative
  • Stage 1: examine the background of the problem to expose issues, problems in structure, develop representation of relevant domains. Used for identification of knowledge gaps, elicit discussion with all of the stakeholder groups
  • Stage 2: Root definition = relevant systems that will provide insight into the problem. Used to ensure all points of view and intersect consideredSelect issues that warrant a closer look by project teamDevelop alternative viewsExplore creative scenariosDrill down into specific organization processes
  • Stage 3: Conceptual Model: expressed by verbs, usually focused on 3 sub systems (knowledge, criteria, application. Verbs are the first level of resolution, e.g. monitor and control. Output = human activity system to create evaluation of the real world
  • Outcome is a rich understanding of parts that results in a richer understanding of the wholeCATWOE can grow, change to scaleAlso BATWOVE where B=Beneficiaries and V = Victims (more complete view, aka SWOT = Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats)
  • Remember the unstructured problems?Intangibles?They will attempt to derail the best laid plans.
  • Answered for us and the clientWould this become the first deliverable after signing?Precipitate the client questionnaire?
  • Selection of purposeful activity systems each based on a declared world view (client and team)
  • Comparison of the models developed against the real world situations that exist
  • Comparison outcome are the components of the Milestones and tasks
  • Action plans are subsets of the main improvement strategy – execution brings about the transformation
  • Everyone going in the same direction to the same place
  • So there you have it… 7.5 Ways or 9.5 Ways or 9.5 Ways plus 7.5 sins, so 17 whatever.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Breaking Down Barriers to Deliver Success PRESENTATION PREPARED BY: Marianne Sweeny SR Search Strategist
    • 2. #PORTENTU
    • 3. PORTENT.CO/ssm-discovery (Yes, use .co, not .com)
    • 4. Marianne Sweeny @portent marianne@portent.com 4
    • 5. HERE BE DRAGONS 5
    • 6. PROJECT PLAYERS Us Them Their target 6
    • 7. EVERY PROJECT STARTS WITH A PLAN 7
    • 8. ALSO UNSTRUCTURED PROBLEMS Dynamic Multiple stakeholders Conflicting interests Uncertainties of many types Intangibles 8
    • 9. CLIENT DISCOVERY 9
    • 10. CLIENT DISCOVERY TODAY Sales contact Questionnaire Client meeting Email, phone calls, more email, stand up meetings, more mail, more phone calls, internal meetings, client meeting (?), more phone calls, more meetings, meetings about meetings, email, email, email. 10
    • 11. DISCOVERY MEETING 11
    • 12. OUTCOME Questionnaire Meeting minutes PowerPoint Expensive box lunch with big cookie 12 You going to finish that cookie?
    • 13. ROADMAP? 13
    • 14. WTF? 14
    • 15. WHY IS A DISCOVERY SESSION SO IMPORTANT Because… 15
    • 16. ENGINEERS THINK THAT … User behavior is predictable User behavior is consistent Process can be automated Transmission of the output (data) is the end result 16
    • 17. IN THE REAL WORLD User behavior is… Interpretive Meaning is constructed in relation to unique situation User behavior changes due to changing context Information is processed before and after the system 17
    • 18. SYSTEM THINKING IS Linear Object-oriented Mechanistic passive users Atomistic view of data (discrete items) Contained situationality 18
    • 19. OUTSIDE OF STAR TREK The real world is… Chaotic Subjective Constructivist active user Holistic view that encompasses additional elements for context Internal cognition Trans-situationality 19
    • 20. SOFT SYSTEM METHODOLOGY 20
    • 21. 21 Everyday life develops in all of us trusted intellectual structures which to us seem good enough to make sense of our experiences, and in general we are reluctant to abandon or modify them even.
    • 22. SSM PROCESS Use it to GET information needed for various system components IDENTIFY wide and sub systems to be supported by new/modified system STRUCTURE an analysis and design process to facilitate mapping of information to issues 22
    • 23. STAGE 1: BUILD A CONSENSUS MODEL Express the current situation and surface the plurality of project team world views 23
    • 24. STAGE 2: EXPRESS THE ISSUES Discussion Consensus Model (represent) 24
    • 25. STAGE 3: AGREEMENT & ACTION PLANS Develop agreement and action plans through process of accommodation 25
    • 26. STAGE 4: EXECUTE Execute on action plans for purposeful activity 26
    • 27. CATWOE Customers who benefits from the system transform Actors who facilitate the transformation Transformation process where inputs become outputs World views that give the transformation meaning Owner to whom system is answerable to Environment or constraints on system 27
    • 28. SO WHAT, YOU SAY?
    • 29. PROJECT PARTICIPANT VIEW FROM THIS TO… 29
    • 30. TO THIS 30 And that’s a good thing
    • 31. SSM & CLIENT DISCOVERY 31
    • 32. DISCOVER Discover client world views, environment, cultural and political influences 32
    • 33. REVEAL Reveal the interacting systems within organizations (client and ours) 33
    • 34. DEFINE Define user purposeful activities (what problems are we trying to solve) 34
    • 35. SHIFT Shift thinking from optimizing for the technology to optimizing for the users 35
    • 36. ITERATE Iterate the SSM throughout the engagement to meet shifting conditions 36
    • 37. SO THIS 37
    • 38. BECOMES THIS And that’s a very good thing 38
    • 39. SSM DISCOVERY OUTCOMES 39
    • 40. CLIENT –SPECIFIC CATWOE Who are the customers? Who does the work? What are the world views that govern our work? Who “owns” the project? What are the environmental influences? What are the systems and subsystems? What inputs become transform into what outputs? 40
    • 41. PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITY 41
    • 42. MODELS IN REAL WORLD SITUATION 42
    • 43. MILESTONES AND TASKS 43
    • 44. ACTION PLANS 44
    • 45. SAVE TIME 45
    • 46. SAVE MONEY 46
    • 47. 47
    • 48. END RESULT 48
    • 49. PORTENT.CO/ssm-discovery (Yes, use .co, not .com)
    • 50. Q&A #PORTENTU
    • 51. THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING
    • 52. Me: @msweeny