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Soft Systems Thinking, Intellectual Capital & Social Capital

3621 words - 15 pages

Soft System Methodology (SSM) was developed as methodology by Peter Checkland and his colleagues working at Lancaster University and Open University in the 1970s. The idea of the SSM is to understand, identify and solve the real world problems.This paper will start with the history of SSM and its definition. Then it describes the SSM methodology with a practical case study from the real world. The author will look into the main features and benefits SSM. Afterwards the author will present the relationship between the soft systems thinking, knowledge management, intellectual capital and social capital.Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is now taught and used around the world. "SSM as an approach ...view middle of the document...

He argues that: "We must look beyond personalities and events. We must look into the underlying structures which shape individual actions and create the conditions where types of events become likely". SSM is called human activity systems (Brocklesby, 1995).SSM methodology composes of seven stages and those are : 1. The problem situation unstructured, 2. The problem situation structured, 3. Root definitions of relevant systems, 4. Conceptual models, 5. Comparison of stage 4 and stage 2, 6. Identify feasible and desirable changes & 7. Action to improve the problem situation. These stages are shown below in Figure 1.Figure 1. Traditional SSM Seven StagesStages 1,2,5,6, and 7 are real world activities that involves real people in the problem situation or the real problem that needs to be improved. These activities speak every day language of the particular situation. While stages 3 and 4 are system thinking activities which may or may not involve those in the problem situation depending on the circumstances. It describes what complexity of the system and what and how the system ought to look like. These activities speak the language of the system. Another way to think of these activities are to think of activities 1 and 2 as the phase of finding out about the problem situation, stages 3, 4, and 5 contribute to make up the phase of system thinking, and finally stages 6 and 7 are the phase of taking action.These seven stages do not represent a single process which can be followed from start to the end in a sequential order and after which a right decision or an answer will be obvious. These stages are stages in a process and this process may have to be repeated many times before a reasonable accommodation or agreement may be reached.Planning and management is increasingly problematic in the real-world environment of spiraling change and uncertainty. Knowledge is incomplete, values are in dispute and the decisions of others are often unpredictable. Problem structuring methods (PSMs) are now a fundamental management skill. It is the process of retrieving information from long-term memory and external memory and using it to construct the problem space, i.e. to specify goals, operators and evaluation functions etc. The methods which have come, collectively, to be known as PSMs were developed independently from the mid 1960s onwards. What each PSM offers is a way of representing the situation (that is, a model or models) that will enable participants to clarify their dilemma, converge on a potentially actionable mutual problem or issue within it, and agree commitments that will at least partially resolve it. There are many types of PSMs and the more standard forms of the principal methods may be briefly summarized as follows:-Strategic options development and analysis (SODA): This is a general problem identification method that uses cognitive mapping as a modelling device for eliciting and recording individuals' views of a problem situation.-Soft...

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