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SoftSystemsMethodology lecture1

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Soft systems methodology (SSM) is a systemic approach for tackling real-world problematic situations.

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SoftSystemsMethodology lecture1

  1. 1. Lecture 1 Soft Systems Methodology Systems Analysis and Design (UCM0558E) Abdisalam Issa-Salwe Thames Valley University Faculty of Professional Studiessystems theory a well-developed body of theoretical ideas - with many applications: A system: - systems analysis is part of a wider system has an environment - management has components or subsytems has a boundary has a purpose? -engineering has continuity has inputs and outputs has measures of performance can adapt to external shocks as a whole is more than the sum of its parts
  2. 2. Hard systems thinking hard systems approaches (systems analysis (structured methods), systems engineering, operations research) assume: objective reality of systems in the world well-defined problem to be solved technical factors foremost scientific approach to problem-solving one correct solutionSoft systems thinkingsoft systems approaches (Soft Systems Methodology, softOR) assume: organisational problems are ‘messy’ (Ackoff), poorly defined stakeholders interpret problems differently (no objective reality) human factors important creative, intuitive approach to problem-solving outcomes are learning, better understanding, rather than a ‘solution’
  3. 3. Methodology In SSADM - rigid techniques and procedures to provide unambiguous solutions to well-defined data and processing problems problems, focused on computer implementations in SSM - a loose framework of tools to be used at the discretion of the analyst, focused on improvements to organisational problems SSM - the current picture: - logic stream - cultural stream source: Checkland, SSM in Action
  4. 4. SSM – overview (seven stage model) situation 7 action to 1 considered improve the problematic problem situation 6 changes: systemically desirable, culturally feasible problem comparison of 2 situation models and expressed real world 5 real world systems thinking about real world 3 conceptual models root definition of systems described of relevant systems in root definitions 4 source: Checkland: Systems Thinking, Systems Practice situation 7 action to 1 considered improve the problematic problem situation 6 changes: systemically desirable,Soft problems culturally feasible problem comparison of 2 situation models and expressed real world 5 real world systems thinking about real world 3 conceptual models root definition of systems described of relevant systems in root definitions 4 Perceived discomfort Poorly defined ‘mess’ (Ackoff) Human complications Unsuited to hard systems or OR techniques
  5. 5. Rich pictures observation coffeetime yet? boundary idea! crossed swords =friction iconic representations - drawn together into a picture which sums up the important elements of the problem situation Rich picture - example situation 7 action to 1 considered improve the problematic problem situation 6 changes: systemically desirable, culturally feasible problem comparison of 2 situation models and expressed real world 5 real world systems thinking about real world 3 conceptual models root definition of systems describedof relevant systems in root definitions 4
  6. 6. Deriving relevant systems Relevant systems are conceptual (in-the- mind) models of parts of the problem that are of interest They are models which follow systems principles to help structure the analyst’s impression of the problem - not definitive descriptions of systems in the real world Problems can be represented as they are perceived by different stakeholders situation 7 action to 1 considered improve the problematic problem situation 6 changes: systemically desirable,Root definitions culturally feasible problem comparison of 2 situation models and expressed real world 5 real world systems thinking about real world 3 conceptual models root definition of systems described of relevant systems in root definitions 4 Short textual statements which define the important elements of the relevant system being modelled - rather like mission statements they follow the form: a system to do X by (means of) Y in order to Z what the system does - X how it does it - Y why it’s being done - Z
  7. 7. Root definition examples Primary task (relating to basic tasks and structures) A university owned and operated system to award degrees and diplomas to suitably qualified candidates (X), by means of suitable assessment (Y), (in conformance with national standards), in order to demonstrate the capabilities of candidates to potential employers (Z). issue based (relating to temporary or qualitative concerns, or concerns of judgment) A university owned and operated system to implement a quality service (X), by devising and operating procedures to delight its customers and control its suppliers (Y), in order to improve its educational products (Z). CATWOE analysis a check to ensure that root definitions contain most of what is importantCustomers the victims or beneficiaries of TActors those who do TTransformation input outputWeltanschauung the worldview that makes the T meaningful in contextOwners those with the power to stop TEnvironmental elements outside the system whichconstraints are taken as given, but nevertheless affect its behaviour
  8. 8. Example CATWOE C candidate students A university staff T candidate students degree holders and diplomates W the belief that awarding degrees and diplomas is a good way of demonstrating the qualities of candidates to potential employers O the University governing body E national educational and assessment standards situation 7 action to 1 considered improve the problematic problem situation 6 changes: systemically desirable, culturally feasible Activity (conceptual) 2 problem situation expressed comparison of models and real world 5 real world models systems thinking about real world 3 conceptual models root definition of systems described of relevant systems in root definitions 4 Representation of the minimum set of activities necessary to ‘do’ the root definition Activities modelled by verbs
  9. 9. Activity models - symbols verb + noun phrase activity - ‘do something’ A B logical dependency arrow - activity A must come before B, or if activity A is done badly - so will B boundary cook dinner study BIT eat take BIT dinner examinationexample useActivity model - example design enrol students education programm es appreciate educate allot resources national students standards award design degrees + diplomas and carry out to students reaching assessm ent acceptable levels A university owned and operated system to award degrees and diplomas to suitably qualified candidates (X), by means of suitable assessment (Y), (in conformance with national standards), in order to demonstrate the capabilities of candidates to potential employers (Z).
  10. 10. Measures of performance E1 - efficacy (does the system work, is the transformation effected)? E2 - efficiency (the relationship between the output achieved and the resources consumed to achieve it) E3 - effectiveness (is the longer term goal (Z) achieved)Measures of performance - example E1 (efficacy) - are degrees and diplomas awarded? E2 (efficiency) - how many degrees and diplomas, of what standard, are awarded for the resource consumed? E3 (effectiveness) - do employers find the degrees and diplomas a useful way of assessing the qualities of potential employees?
  11. 11. The complete conceptual model Root definition CATWOE Activity model Measures of performanceThe complete model - example A university owned and operated systemto award degrees and diplomas to suitably qualified candidates (X), by means of suitable assessment (Y), (in conformance with design enroll students education national standards), in order to demonstrate the programmes capabilities of candidates to potential employers (Z). appreciate C candidate students educate allot national A university staff students resources standards T candidate students degree holders and diplomates award design degrees + diplomas W the belief that awarding degrees and and carry out diplomas is a good way of demonstratingto students reaching assessment the qualities of candidates to potential acceptable levels take control employers action O the University governing body monitor for E1, E2, E3 E national educational and assessment standardsE1 (efficacy) - are degrees and diplomas awarded?E2 (efficiency) - how many degrees and diplomas, of what standard, are awarded forthe resource consumed?E3 (effectiveness) - do employers find the degrees and diplomas a useful way ofassessing the qualities of potential employees?
  12. 12. Levels of resolution each activity may be modelled at a higher level of resolution - in other words a new root definition is prepared specific to that activity and a conceptual model built which further defines the set of (more detailed) activities necessary to accomplish it. in this way complex situations with many activities can be modelled without loosing a sense of the overall shape of the problem situation 7 action to 1 considered improve the problematic problem situation 6 changes: systemically desirable, culturally feasible problem comparison of Comparison with 2 situation models and expressed real world 5 real world systems thinking about real world the real world 3 conceptual models root definition of systems described of relevant systems in root definitions 4 activity is it done in the real situation? comments, how is it done? recommendations 1 2 3
  13. 13. References: Shehata, Mohamed and Seth Bowen (2000), “Soft Systems Methodology”, http://sern.ucalgary.ca/~bowen/613/report/#figure8a Dale Couprie, Alan Goodbrand, Bin Li, David Zhu (1997). Soft System Methodology. http://sern.ucalgary.ca/courses/seng/613/F97/grp4/ssmfinal.html Checkland, P.(2000). System thinking, System practice. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY. Checkland, P. and Scholes, J. (1990). Soft Systems Methodology in Action. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.

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