An Introduction to Soft Systems Methodology

An Introduction to Soft Systems Methodology

Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 31
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4504-1.ch001
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Soft systems methodology (SSM) is the outcome of a real-world action research program that uses the idea of systems to improve poorly defined, so-called soft problem areas. Theory and practice of SSM arouse interest and encourage discussions from various backgrounds by academics and practitioners. In order to introduce SSM for use in the real world, this chapter begins with different definitions and methodologies of systems thinking. Then, SSM defines the seven technical analysis steps, including the soft systems thinking and the necessary techniques such as rich picture, CATWOE analysis, root definition, and conceptual modeling. SSM has organizational analysis and practical applications in the industry sector that are reviewed and classified.
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Systems Thinking Definitions

Jay Forrester (1994) mentioned that there is no clear definition or use of systems thinking. Systems thinking is sometimes used interchangeably with system dynamics (SD). Systems thinking means much less than thinking and talking about systems, and recognizing the importance of systems. Rather, the relatively superficial general awareness of systems is considered in systems thinking. In Table 1, the systems thinking definitions are compared.

Table 1.
Comparison of systems thinking definitions (Arnold and Wade, 2015)
AuthorWholes rather than partsDynamic behaviorSystem as the cause of its behaviorInterconnections/interrelationshipsStock and flow relationshipsDelaysNon-linear relationshipsFeedback loopsSystem structure generates behaviors
Richmond (1994)
Senge (1990)
Sweeney and Sterman (2000)
Hopper and Stave (2007)
Kopainsky, Alessi and Davidsen (2011)
Squire, Wade, Dominick and Gelosh (2011)

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