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Systems Thinking for Safety/Soft Systems Methodology and Rich Pictures

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Soft systems methodology (SSM) is a systemic approach for tackling real-world problematic situations. Soft Systems Methodology is the result of continuing action research by Peter Checkland, Brian Wilson, and many others over 30 years, to provide a framework for users to deal with messy (perceived) problem situations.

SSM treats a 'system' as a mental construct used for human understanding. Different perspectives may therefore give different understandings.

The seven stages of the original version of SSM as a seven-stage methodology published in Checkland (1998) are:

  1. Entering the problem situation.
  2. Expressing the problem situation.
  3. Formulating root definitions of relevant systems.
  4. Building Conceptual Models of Human Activity Systems.
  5. Comparing the models with the real world.
  6. Defining changes that are desirable and feasible.
  7. Taking action to improve the real world situation.

Further reading

Checkland, P. B. (1998). Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.