Essays on Soft Systems Methodology for Organisational Problem-Solving Coursework

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Generally speaking, the paper "Soft Systems Methodology for Organisational Problem-Solving" is a good example of business coursework.   In business and social environments, problems and issues are inevitable and therefore success lies in countering these problems and challenges and moving to the next level.   Nevertheless, there are managerial, organizational and policy situations that have no distinct clear-cut problems or issues and there are no easy solutions to the problems. This forms the need for systems that can effectively and efficiently offer agreed definition of the problems as noted by Boardman & Sauser (2008). Among such systems is the soft systems methodology, which integrates the hard and soft aspects of the organization to define the problem and therefore, is integral in problem-solving processes in organizations and aiding change management.

The hard aspect addresses the software and hardware systems and the soft aspect focuses on managerial, organizational, cultural and political issues. Wilson (2001) highlights that soft system methodology was established through combined efforts of Peter Checkland and his colleagues at the Lancaster University and fully explained in Checkland’ s 1981 book, Systems thinking, systems practice. Primarily, soft systems methodology is essential for examining and modelling difficult to define and intricate systems that incorporate human and technological systems which constitute the soft and hard aspects respectively (Bentley, 1993). According to Checkland (1981), soft systems methodology also referred to as SSM entails a cyclic learning system that utilizes the framework of human actions to analyze with the actors in practical real-world problem events, what their attitudes and perceptions on the event are and their willingness to make up decisions on firm actions which incorporates varied perceptions, attitudes, ideals and judgments from different actors.

This report seeks to describe and explain Peter Checkland’ s Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) by analyzing some brief case study examples of its application in business, government, or community problem situations. Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) for Organizational Problem Solving What is a soft system? According to Checkland (1981), a soft system refers to a human activity system which is varied from natural and designed systems since soft systems are integrated with the element of human feelings and relationships. Using engineering systems (hard systems) to deal with the erratic and intricate human element of the system is not only difficult but unproductive as highlighted by Midgley (2000).

This is what makes soft systems methodology unique and effective in tackling undefined and complex problems that encompass indistinct and manifold purposes with varied perceptions and attitudes about the problem. As Checkland (2000) notes, the soft systems methodology is effective and efficient owing to its ability to factor in that different people have divergent views of a situation and therefore, have varied preferences on the outcomes and therefore, ensuring that the outcomes of the analysis are acceptable for all concerned actors.

Moreover, the methodology does not rely on one particular method of action but seeks to define suitable enhanced action plan using an iterative course of action that includes the shareholders, actors and the clients of the system (Skyttner, 2006). SSM recognizes the role of user involvement and generate an extended degree of flexibility in problem-solving. Seddon (2008) implies that the soft system methodology is deemed effective and successful when all parties concerned perceive the problem solved, the situation is improved and when new knowledge is acquired.

The methodology incorporates all perspectives of the actors and other concerned parties in analyzing the problem which is crucial in ensuring each of the parties take ownership of the outcomes (Couprie et al. 2007). Therefore, they become committed and accountable in making the outcomes successful to ensure the anticipated organizational, managerial, cultural or political goals and objectives of the organization are achieved.


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