Talk:Soft systems methodology

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Renaming the article to Soft systems methodology[edit]

The current title of the article is Soft systems, and the name Soft Systems Methodology redirect to here. Now I like to rename the article to Soft systems methodology for the following reasons:

  1. The "soft system" is a concept within the "Soft systems methodology"
  2. The term "soft system" refers in general more to one kind of system, among the many kinds of systems already mentioned in the Wikipedia.
  3. The term "Soft systems methodology" refers in general more to a theory, or a set of methods and techniques. And this is the main subject of this article.
  4. Now Peter Checkland uses the term Soft Systems Methodology. But in Wikipedia it has become a habbit to write titles with only one capital, like Soft systems methodology. The term "Soft Systems Methodology" can be used in the article itselve.

Renaming I think will make this article more obvious. - Mdd 11:10, 16 July 2007 (UTC)


I can't find the concept of soft system mentioned in Checkland's original book (Systems Thinking, Systems Practice 1981). Here are some of the entries from the glossary.
  • System. A model of a whole entity; when applied to human activity, the model is characterized fundamentally in terms of hierarchical structure, emergent properties, communication and control. An observer may choose to relate this model to real-world activity. When applies to natural or man-made entities, the crucial characteristic is the emergent properties of the whole.
  • Problem, Hard. A problem, usually a real-world problem, which can be formulated as the search for an efficient means of achieving a defined end.
  • Problem, Soft. A problem, usually a real-world problem, which cannot be formulated as the search for an efficient means of achieving a defined end; a problem in which ends, goals, purposes are themselves problematic.
  • Systems Methodology, Hard. Systems-based methodology, also known as 'systems engineering', for tackling real-world problems in which an objective or end-to-be-achieved can be taken as given. A system is then engineered to achieve the stated outcome.
  • Systems Methodology, Soft. Systems-based methodology for tackling real-world problems in which known-to-be-desirable ends cannot be taken as given. Soft systems methodology is based upon a phenomenological stance.


He deliberately writes "Systems Methodology, Soft" so that his readers cannot possibly interpret this as "Methodology, Soft Systems". So if there is no such thing as a "soft system" in Checkland's original terminology, when did this concept appear? (RichardVeryard (talk) 23:45, 27 October 2012 (UTC))
Hi Richard. In his 1981 book "Systems thinking, systems practice", Peter Checkland did use the term "Soft systems methodology", see here. -- Mdd (talk) 09:31, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

Accommodation, not Consensus[edit]

In the [Methodology] section, the statement "...the decision makers will arrive at consensus..." is wrong and has been changed to "...the decision makers will arrive at accommodations (or, exceptionally, at consensus)..."

In "Learning for Action", Checkland & Poulter, Wiley 2006, p54, the authors state that; "When describing the discussion/debate in SSM, much - perhaps most - of the secondary literature about the approach makes a remarkable and fundamental error. It assumes that the purpose of the discussion/debate is to find consensus. It is a 'remarkable' mistake in that anyone who had read the primary literature with care would not make it, and it is 'fundamental' because, in order to cope with the complexity of human affairs, SSM uses a much more subtle idea than 'consensus'. It works with the idea of finding an accommodation among a group of people with a common concern. This does not abandon the possibility of consensus rather it subsumes it in the more general idea of accommodation."

Chris.hoggarth 08:50, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for this explaination. To be honest I didn't understand the recent changes you made in the article untill I read it now. I think we should copy this explaination into the text (with a reference) so this will become more clearer to all readers. - Mdd 11:03, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

7 stage version and conceptual models[edit]

In the existing description of the 7 stage process does not contain enough detail. Also, it is not clear what the stages are. They are: 1. The problem situation unstructured 2. The problems situation expressed 3. Roof Definitions of Relevant Systems 4. Conceptual Models 5. Compare 4 with 2 6. Identify/define desirable feasible changes 7. Action to improve the problem situation This seven stage process is shown in the same form in Checkland (1981) Checkland & Scholes (1990) and Wilson (1990)

The existing article seems to fizzle out with only 2 lines on conceptual models of human activity systems. These models play the all important role in Wilson's method of information system design.

I can make the appropriate corrections and additions. However, I am new to writing/editing on Wikipedia and am unsure about the best way to proceed. Is it best to discuss changes on a page like this or dive straight in? Logicalgregory (talk) 09:09, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

It's best to dive straight in - Be bold ! Make sure you cite reliable sources to support the content you add. You can discuss changes which others might object to, such as moving the article or removing sections etc. on the talk, but for non-controversial improvements there's no need to. Claritas § 09:16, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Wilson, Haperen and the Yorkshire police[edit]

I have replaced the information about Wilson's current occupation (at the start of the page) with a link to Wilson's biography. --Logicalgregory (talk) 05:15, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

I think the opening section is now much better - I had forgotten about Jenkins and ISCOL. I have made some minor changes in the police case, in order to bring it in line with the overall style and content of the article. I hope I have understood the case correctly. --Logicalgregory (talk) 05:54, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

I changed the format of the listing for the Haperen paper in order to make the link more visible. Its good to have more links to on-line sources. --Logicalgregory (talk) 06:10, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

Diagrams and drawings needed[edit]

Checkland, Wilson and other SSM practioners make extensive use of diagrams and drawings. None of these are included in the article, which does not even include a rich picture. I have tried to find some, but all appear to be copyright of some publisher or other. The existing conceptual model is not very representative, but is the only one I could use (it belonged to me before I released it into the public domain).

If anybody knows of any SSM diagrams and drawing that are in the public domain, or if anybody owns an SSM diagram or drawing and is willing to release it into the public domain, please let me know.--Logicalgregory (talk) 03:29, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

I have tried to find some illustrations as well two years ago, but couldn't find anything either. Most of the (1000+) illustrations I found about systems theory, systems engineering, project management, information systems development etc. came from us.gov sources. Now I noticed SSM wasn't used there.
The only thing what could be done is make own drawings. I noticed you start doing that with some simple diagrams. Don't you have some more complex rich pictures of your own? -- Mdd (talk) 13:15, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
As far as the conceptual model is concerned, I could take one of Checkland's and change the content (to avoid copyright) but I would prefer to use one that has been used in a real SSM project. I never used rich pictures, so do not have any of my own. Best leave it for a while, maybe something will turn up.--Logicalgregory (talk) 15:26, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
It is never perfect. Good luck with that. -- Mdd (talk) 17:50, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

About the warnings of being writen like advertisement[edit]

I am a Phd graduate from Lancaster University and have done my research under the supervision of Peter Checkland and to my dismay I have seen this warning in this page and I cannot agree with it. I have carefully read this article and could not detect any of such advertisement led text entries. Could you please be more specific about them? Meanwhile, I remove the warning.--Nunesdea (talk) 21:52, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

Lack of inline citation[edit]

There are quite a number of citations and the references are sound and solid. I remove this warning, please be more specific about this in the specific section, overall the article is well supported. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nunesdea (talkcontribs) 21:55, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

Lead section re-write?[edit]

I have no idea why there is a request to re-write this section. Can someone please suggest some editions. I find them perfectly right and well supported with solid references. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nunesdea (talkcontribs) 21:58, 11 June 2015 (UTC)