I aim to add here a number of different systemic frameworks and systems methodologies which I believe can influence my thinking and inform my journey into developing an appropriate systemic framework for my analysis of my fieldwork.

1. Soft System Methodology – Peter Checkland, Lancaster University

The following link is a summary of a 30 year retrospective given by Professor Checkland regarding SSM.


Systems thinking provides an alternative and complementary perspective to the conventional reductionist scientific enquiry that has dominated research within the NHS.  Systems thinking attempts tp take a holistic view of the interrelated components thus providing a wider picture.    It is important to determine that the linear, machine metaphor dominated approach that has dominated the research is not always misplaced.   It is important  to determine the appropriateness of using a particle paradigm and theory.  Where mechanical components are involved and thus their behaviour can be predicted then the rreductionist/deterministic approach is more appropriate.  However, in organisations, such as the NHS, where human interactions are an every day part, then a more interpretive approach needs to be adopted.  Human behaviour is unpredictable and organisational and management elements are consequently complex with many indeterminable variables – ‘messes‘ (Ackoff) and its unintended consequences.

Developing My Own Framework for analysis

I am beginning to develop a modfied version of SSM which I have used for my research.  I am using a modified version as I believe that full SSM is more relvant for Action Research yet my study is not Action Research but a service evaluation.

– Systems:  essential characteristics.

– Boundary and environment : Rich Pictures and Systems Maps help with understanding further an unstructured situation and adding some system boundaries and exploring the possible hierarchies that are within nested systems

– hierarchies, levels and emergent properties:  Using the CATWOE mnemonic of SSM (Checkland and Scholes, 1990) is a useful tool here.  Identify your customers, actors, Transformational process of your chosen system, the opportunities and your three Es – efficacy, efficiency and effectiveness

– Analysis 1,2,3 : taken from mode 2 of SSM or otherwise refered to as the ‘stream of cultural analysis’.  Analysis 1 the analysis of intervention – who are the problem owners and the problem solvers,  analysis 2 is the roles, values and norms or otherwise referred to as Social analysis and analysis 3 relates to the political analysis which takes into account analysis of the power relationship within organisations.

Throughout all of the the concept of different perspectives is paramount and this richness needs to be captured in one way or another.


2 Responses to Frameworks

  1. Pingback: Systems Thinking « My PhD Diary

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review | My PhD Diary

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