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Mark and Spencer’s case

Aim of this Report is to discuss Soft System Methodology in detail and apply it to the Mark and Spencer’s case. The Author has chosen the soft system methodology because the situation there in Mark and Spencer is very critical, complex and unstructured and that is why, it becomes the perfect case for Soft System Methodology. This report will first of all discuss Soft System Methodology in detail along with all its different stages. Then key issues of Mark and Spenser will be identified by underpinning the theory and literature review.

Finally, the report will make appropriate conclusions and recommendations for implementation in the long-term strategies of Mark and Spencer for making it perhaps a competitive organisation for the future.

2 Background

Marks and Spencer, from here onward known as M&S, is one of the largest main store chains of the UK. It came into existence in late 1880 and at one time became the most profitable and successful companies of UK. But lately the company is facing lot of problems and its profits are decreasing every year. M&S has so far five CEO. All of these CEO were having there own believes and thoughts.

Like Simon Marks, son of Michael Marks (Founder of

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M&S) took over the running of M&S from his father. He made the following substantial changes in M&S. SSM is a problem solving methodology developed from system theory, for use in ill-structured or “messy” problem context where there is no clear view as to what constitute the problem, or what action should be taken to overcome difficulties. According to Check land SSM is an organized way of tackling messy situations in the real world based on system thinking, which enables it to be highly defined and described, but it is flexible in use and broad in scope.

(Peter Checkland & Jim Scholes, 1990) SSM was developed by Peter Checkland (1981) as a strategy for analyzing complex problem situations and identified acceptable improvements that could be made to those situations. The aim of the analysis is to gain improvements that could be made to those situations. The aim of the analysis is to gain improvement to the system; this is achieved through a multistage process of information gathering, description, analysis and debate (D. Jennings & S. Wattam, 1998) According to Patching (1990)

SSM is a set of high-level guidelines for applying system ideas to soft or unstructured situation, providing a general learning framework for problem identification, normally prior to the application of problem solving techniques. “We have also come to realize that no problem ever exists in complete isolation. Every problem interacts with other problems and is therefore, part of a set interrelated problems, a system of problems… Furthermore, solutions to most problems produce other problems… English does no contain a suitable word for ‘systems of problems’ Therefore. I have had to coin one. I choose to call such a system a ‘mess’. Read Marks & Spencer market structure

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