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Soft Systems Methodology for solving wicked problems

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This presentation was used as part of the collaborative work environment designed for delivering a workshop about SSM for group problem solving in the IAF - International Association of Facilitators - European Middle East and Africa, Regional Conference 2014.

Published in: Leadership & Management

Soft Systems Methodology for solving wicked problems

  1. 1. Welcome | Velkommen | Dobro pozhalovat SSM for group problem solving Paul Nunesdea | CEO groupVision | Optimizing group collaboration Workshop delivered at IAF EMENA Conference 2014, Copenhagen http://facilitationreloaded.com/
  2. 2. Our resources for this session
  3. 3. Session outline •Whiteboard: Intro & setting expectations. •Circle: What do we know about systems? •Presentation: Soft systems methodology in a nutshell. •First exercise (20 minutes) - designing models. •Second exercise (20 + 15 minutes) - designing model & comparison. •Circle: wrap up and close.
  4. 4. SSM in a nutshell Short presentation about Soft Systems Methodology
  5. 5. 3 key ideas about SSM •Notion of 'human activity systems'. •Compare systems models with real world •Out of this arises: •a better understanding of the situation •and consensus for action.
  6. 6. SSM techniques Objective: learn the basic techniques
  7. 7. •Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is a powerful approach for complexity management.
  8. 8. Designing human activity systems 1) Root definition: •A system to do X, by Y in order to do Z'. 2) Use the CATWOE abbreviation. 3) Activity models flow from the core transformation •Must follow the behaviour of a system.
  9. 9. CATWOE •1. Transformation - what fundamental change is made to the systems' inputs? in what outputs are they converted? •2. Weltanschauung - what is the fundamental worldview that makes this transformation relevant? •3. Customer - who is the beneficiary of this systems' transformation. •4. Actors - who enacts this transformation? •5. Owners - who can stop this system to operate? •6. Environment - what are the major external constraints that can impact the systems' operations?
  10. 10. CATWOE •1. Transformation - what fundamental change is made to the systems' inputs? in what outputs are they converted? •2. Weltanschauung - what is the fundamental worldview that makes this transformation relevant? •3. Customer - who is the beneficiary of this systems' transformation. •4. Actors - who enacts this transformation? •5. Owners - who can stop this system to operate? •6. Environment - what are the major external constraints that can impact the systems' operations? Which is which?
  11. 11. An example from a published study • "A Foundation sponsored system operated by their stakeholders creates a set of good news stories about consumer use of sustainable agricultural products that allow lobbyists to use them as part of their policy development levers." Bob William's work in the Kellogg Foundation
  12. 12. Converted in CATWOE •Customers = sustainable agriculture lobbyists •Actors = project evaluators, farmers, retailers, Sustainable Food Collaboration staff Transformation = preponderance of bad stories replaced by a preponderance of good stories •Weltanschauung = stories bring about pressure for social change •Owner = The Kellogs Foundation •Environment = established practice, isolated area, poverty and lack of investment capital.
  13. 13. Modelling •For each root definition you can draw its corresponding conceptual model •There is no right or wrong model •Only more or less logically defensible ones.
  14. 14. Designing a human activity system model •1. Using verbs in the imperative write down activities necessary to carry out the Transformation (T in CATWOE). Aim for 7±2 activities that are at the same scale. •2. Select activities which could be done at once (i.e., not dependent on others) : •3. Place these activities in a line, and then those that are dependent on these first activities in a second line; continue until all are accounted for. •4. Indicate the dependencies with arrows that connect one activity to the next logically dependent one. •5. Rearrange to avoid overlapping arrows where possible.
  15. 15. Exercise 1 - 20 min Model Bob Williams' root definition of the Kellogs Foundation's or any other you would like to create.
  16. 16. SSM interventions Two streams of inquiry
  17. 17. Logical stream of analysis
  18. 18. Activities in the model What actually happens? How to improve? Activity 1 Activity 2 Activity n ...
  19. 19. Cultural stream of analysis Analysis I - analysis of intervention - Client/consultant relationship •Who is in the role of client? •Who is the 'would be problem solver'? •Who is the 'problem owner'? Analysis II- social system analysis •Roles, Norms, Values Analysis III - Political system analysis •How is 'power' expressed around here? What are the commodities through which power is expressed?
  20. 20. Exercise 2 - 20 min + 15 min "A system to transfer both conceptual and practical knowledge about SSM to a professional body of consultants and change managers in a profitable way."
  21. 21. Wrap up Major findings
  22. 22. Thank you | Tak | Spasibo SSM for group problem solving Acknowledgements: The images in this presentation were captured from a book that I strongly recommend: Checkland, P & Scholes, J. (1990) Soft Systems in Action – John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. The root definition was used from Bob William's work in the Kellogg Foundation http://users.actrix.com/bobwill/ssm.pdf I also would like to thank all my colleagues that have attended your feedback was extremely valuable.
  23. 23. Participants
  24. 24. •Paul Nunesdea is the English author name of Paulo Manuel Coimbra Nunes de Abreu an organizational psychologist, MSc in Information Management and PhD in Management Science. •Paul has conducted research work and external consultancy in a varied number of organizations including National and Regional Governments. •In 2003 he started the "Forum Hospital do Futuro" a not for profit initiative that convened a national Think Thank in Portugal •In 2009 he founded the Iberian Healthcare Leaders Forum that has convened several Thought Leaders summits in Spain and Portugal. About the author
  25. 25. Please keep in contact following us in Linkedin! https://www.linkedin.com/company/groupvision

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