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System concept-soft system method

Systems thinking involves the realization that many of the things dealt with in day-to-day existence can be considered as systems (i. e. sets of entities related in some way, often organized or designed to achieve some purpose). “Soft systems methodology (SSM) uses systems concepts as a means for learning and understanding in a problem situation, or a situation which some may see as problematic. ” (Checkland, 1999. Retrieved from http://www. emeraldinsight. com/Insight/ViewContentServlet? Filename=Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Articles/0150280603.html).

Having been developed at Lancaster University over the course of about 25 years through various research Soft systems methodology is designed to deal with problems that are of a fuzzy nature, and problems that have unclear objectives, in which there might be varying perceptions of the same problem. It is possible to apply Soft systems methodology in situations in which there are areas of concern, where no particular problem has been identified, but where it is also the conception that some improvement can be achieved.

“The methodology has developed mainly as a result of consultancy work. As more experience was gained dealing with different sorts of problem situations, the learning was analyzed and incorporated into the methodology. What we have as a result is a generic methodology which should be adapted to any given situation. ” (Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 95 No. 4, 1995, pp. 19-21. MCB University Press Limited. Retrieved from http://www. emeraldinsight. com/Insight/html/Output/Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Pdf/0290950404. pdf)

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In this case of building a system for production and sales of affordable home furnishing items of good design, quality, durability and function, the case is also loosely based on a real-world problem situation. This can be developed as a case to support information systems students learning the Soft Systems Methodology as it is felt to be “typical of the type of unstructured information management problems facing many rapidly changing, distributed organizations today. ” (Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 95 No. 4, 1995, pp. 19-21. MCB University Press Limited.

Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight. com/Insight/html/Output/Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Pdf/0290950404. pdf) The Checkland methodology, or the seven-stage model, is considered by most people to be the SSM. However, SSM covers a range of methodologies developed to deal with different situations. The Checkland Methodology. The seven stages are: (1) the problem situation unstructured; (2) the problem situation expressed; (3) root definitions of relevant systems; (4) deriving conceptual models; (5) comparing conceptual models with the “real” world; (6) defining feasible, desirable changes; (7) taking action.

Stages (1), (2), (5), (6) and (7) can be regarded as working in the real world, while stages (3) and (4) can be considered to be systems thinking about the real world.

References

Checkland, P. , Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, Wiley, Chichester, 1981. Checkland, P. (1999), Soft Systems Methodology: A 30-year Retrospective and Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, 2nd ed. , John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. Retrieved from http://www. emeraldinsight. com/Insight/ViewContentServlet? Filename=Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Articles/0150280603. html

Price, S. and John, P. (2004). The status of models in defence systems engineering, in Pidd, M. (Ed. ), Systems Modelling: Theory and Practice, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, pp. 164-76. Rosenhead, J. (Ed. ), Rational Analysis of a Problematic World, Wiley, Chichester, 1989. Wilson, B. , Systems: Concepts, Methodologies and Applications, Wiley, Chichester, 1992. Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 95 No. 4, 1995, pp. 19-21. MCB University Press Limited. Retrieved from http://www. emeraldinsight. com/Insight/html/Output/Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Pdf/0290950404. pdf

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