Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) stages 1 – 4

Methodology supporting Soft Systems analysis developed by Checkland.
Seven stages:

  1. The Problem Situation
  2. The Problem Situation expressed
  3. Root Definitions of relevant systems
  4. Building Conceptual Models
  5. Comparison of the expressed Problem Situation and the Conceptual Models
  6. Feasible and desired changes
  7. Action to improve the situation

Stages 1 & 2 – obtaining rich expression of problem situation, creation of rich pictures.
Stage 3 – production of Root Definition – precise definition of system.
Stage 4 – creation of Conceptual Models – abstraction of system. Conceptual Models create ‘ideal’ system. Validation of model via five ‘E’s’:

  • Efficacy – will it work?
  • Efficiency – will it work with minimum of resources?
  • Effectiveness – does it contribute to the organisation?
  • Ethicality – is system moral?
  • Elegance – is system beautiful?

Conceptual Model – enough detail to show resource usage and performance indicators.


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