• January 31st, 2016

Systems Thinking

Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements

Read Chapter 5, Soft Systems Methodology, attached.

Use the ideas in this chapter to develop a holistic view of a “messy” problem.

A messy problem is a complex problem that involves humans as well as engineered systems (existing or proposed), and in which there are many interdependent variables. Examples of messy probems are:

Reducing mercury in the oceans
Reducing carbon in the atmosphere
Attaining universal healthcare
Improving the energy grid
I do not expect you to address a problem of this magnitude.

there is an article about the London Ambulance System development.

Read Darren Dalcher’s article about the London Ambulance System and apply Checkland’s methods to understand the problem.

Consider Ackoff’s description of synthesis in doing this. You should look at the problem from different “world views”, that is from the views of diverse stakeholders.

1. Develop a “rich picture” of the problem situation (the purposeful activity), see p. 209 in Chapter 5, and fig. 5.11 on p.210.

2. Create a root definition for a purposeful system to be modelled, see p. 219 (Do P by Q, in order to achieve R).

3. Define “CATWOE”, see p. 220.

4. Create one or more models of the purposeful system, see figure 5.7 on p.205, and fig. 5.20 on page 225.

Upload your response to Blackboard.


Clients – Who are the beneficiaries or victims of this particular system? (Who would benefit or suffer from its operations?)

Actors – Who are responsible for implementing this system? (Who would carry out the activities which make this system work?)

Transformation – What transformation does this system bring about? (What are the inputs and what transformation do they go through to become the outputs?)

Weltanschauung (or worldview) – What particular worldview justifies the existence of this system? (What point of view makes this system meaningful?).

Owner – Who has the authority to abolish this system or change its measures of performance?

Environmental constraints – Which external constraints does this system take as a given?

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