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Checkland - A Skeleton account of SSM

Checkland - A Skeleton account of SSM - 1 WhatisSSM The aim...

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Skeleton  Account of SSM  What is SSM?  The aim of the work which led to the development of Soft Systems Methodology  (SSM) was to find a better way of dealing with a kind of situation we continually  find ourselves facing in everyday life: a situation about which we have the feeling  that   'something   needs   to   be   done   about   this'.   We   shall   call   such   situations  'problematical', rather than describing them as 'problem situations', since they may  not present a well-defined 'problem' to be 'solved' out of existence - everyday life is  more complex than that! A company might feel that it needs to stimulate sales,  perhaps by introducing a new product, or should they bid for the equity of a smaller  rival? A university may feel that its student intake is too biased towards students  from middleclass homes. What are the implications of changing that? A government  may struggle to define legislation which would increase the feeling of security on the  streets, given the threat of terrorism, without diminishing civil liberties. A local  council   may   be   receiving   complaints   that   the   delivery   of   its   services   is   not  sufficiently 'citizen-friendly'. What should it do? A head teacher may wonder how to  decide whether to take on the responsibility for providing school meals (the school  benefiting   from   any   surplus   generated)   or   to   leave   that   function   to   the   local  education authority. An individual may develop a sense of unease about the future  viability of the firm he or she works for, and wonder whether to look for a job  elsewhere. All these are 'problematical situations'. They could be tackled in various  ways: by appealing to previous experience; intuitively: by randomly thrashing about  (never a shortage of that in human situations); by responding emotionally, or they  could be addressed by using SSM.  So what is it? It is an organized, flexible process for dealing with situations which  someone   sees   as   problematical,   situations   which   call   for   action   to   be   taken   to  improve them, to make them more acceptable, less full of tensions and unanswered  questions. The 'process' referred to is an organized process of thinking your way to  1
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taking sensible' action to improve' the situation, and, finally, it is a process based on  a particular body of ideas, namely  systems  ideas.  That   these   ideas   have   proved   themselves   to   be   useful   in   dealing   with   the  complexty of the social world is hardly surprising. Social situations are always 
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