What’s the problem?

Many times, the first problem is figuring out what the problem is. “What’s the problem?” is the question we ask, but finding the answer can prove to be challenging.

Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is a way to learn about and appreciate the situations stakeholders find themselves in.

Soft Systems Methodology attempts to foster learning and appreciation of the problem situation between a group of stakeholders rather than set out to solve a pre-defined problem.

Source: Soft Systems Methodology

SSM encompasses two main modes: real world activities, and systems thinking about the real world.

Rich pictures can be used to represent interviews and meetings conducted to understand the problem situation.

Systems thinking uses concepts of hierarchy, communication, control, and emergent properties to identify ‘relevant systems’ which may provide useful insights.”

Source: Soft Systems Methodology

SSM uses CATWOE to describe the different perspectives of a situation that should be considered:

  • Customers
  • Actors
  • Transformation process
  • Worldview
  • Owner
  • Environmental constraints
CATWOE Analysis
CATWOE Analysis

Source: https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/research/dstools/soft-systems-methodology/

What’s the problem?

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