Soft Systems Methodology

Modes of Practice
  • M. G. Haynes


Systems thinking, in the form of a general theory, emerged during the 1950’s and gave birth to what is now known as the’ systems movement’. Within the systems movement a number of different approaches to ‘doing’ systems thinking appeared. One of these, concerned with the management of human affairs, and which evolved over a 25-year period of intellectual deliberation and organised experiential learning, is Soft Systems Methodology (SSM). The early version of SSM was described in terms of a conventional seven-stage model; this has now matured into a more sophisticated form of structured enquiry involving interacting streams of logic-based and cultural analysis (Checkland and Scholes, 1990). SSM is well known but is still perceived by many to be the preserve of academia rather than a useful tool that can be used to deal routinely with the complex human and information management issues that confront every manager.


Problem Situation System Movement System Thinking Soft System Methodology Cultural Analysis 
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  1. Checkland, P.B., 1988, Soft systems methodology: an overview, Journal of Applied Systems Analysis. Vol. 15, pp 27–30.Google Scholar
  2. Checkland, P.B., and Haynes, M.G., 1994 Varieties of systems thinking: the case of soft systems methodology, System Dynamics Review. Vol. 10, pp 189–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Checkland, P.B., and Scholes, J., 1990, “Soft Systems Methodology in Action”, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. G. Haynes
    • 1
  1. 1.CSSMSkipton, North YorksUK

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