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ADVANCED SYSTEMS ANALYSIS

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  • Post Date 2018-11-09T13:03:05+00:00
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ADVANCED SYSTEMS ANALYSIS

 

Table of Contents

Introduction. 2

Structure. 2

Participation. 3

Facilitator 3

Client 3

Problem Solvers 3

Problem Owners 4

Step 2D.. 4

STAGE 1 - Appreciation. 5

Task 1.1. Client Mapping. 6

Template: 7

Task 1.2. Knowledge Boundary Analysis 8

Template: 9

Task 1.3. Analysis Two. 10

Template: 11

Task 1.4. Analysis Three. 12

Template: 13

Stage 2: Define. 14

Task 2.1. Purposeful Activities 15

Example Root Definition. 15

Template: 16

Stage 3: Debate. 17

Task 3.1. Organisation Possibilities 18

Template: 18

Task 3.2. Technical Possibilities 19

Template: 19

References 20

Appendices 21

Appendix A – Log Book. 21

Introduction

Knowledge is not, nor can it conceivably be thought of as, a commodity (Bednar & Welch, 2009, p. 9), it cannot be “captured, stored and transferred” (Bednar, 2014, p. 46). However, it has to be passed on through some form, otherwise the human race would have to keep relearning the same lessons. Most commonly, knowledge management occurs through the interaction between individuals, be this conversations or mentoring session; however, it needs to be within the “context of a problematical situation” (Bednar, 2014, p. 46).

Knowledge management, or sharing, is crucial to a business, it is only through the acquisition of relevant knowledge that purposefully informed decisions, made by unique individuals, can be made (Bednar & Welch, 2008, p. 4). These informed decisions have the impact of further supporting the  “management of the business organisation” (F. A. Stowell & West, 1994, p. 119). However, through time individuals and groups become entrapped, they stick with old patterns, or use knowledge as a power ‘commodity’ (Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012; Franklyn Arthur Stowell, 1989); this entrapment causes an inhibition to the learning process, which in effect disturbs the ability of the work design to adapt and change, as most holons are meant to do, within their environment (Bednar & Welch, 2008, p. 4).

This is where the created methodology, ADD, derives its purpose; to be able to remove individuals and groups from this entrapped form of working and thinking, to get the sharing of knowledge started again. This was to be accomplished through the combining of Soft Systems Methodology (Checkland & Scholes, 1990; Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012) with the step 2D from the Socio-Technical Toolbox (Bednar, 2014) which was used during the author’s second year of studies at The University of Portsmouth. The project would also be an amalgamation of other methodologies and frameworks, such as Mumford’s ETHICS (Mumford, 2013; Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012), Client-Led Design (F. A. Stowell & West, 1994; Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012), and Champion’s PEArL framework (Champion, 2007; Champion & Stowell, 2001, 2003).

 

Structure

The structure of the new methodology is fairly simple, as depicted in Figure 1; it comprises three stages, two of which are iterative by nature, and combine to make the future discussion for change. The arrows either side of the text in Figure 1, indicate this iterative nature, just because a task has been completed once, does not mean it is complete; the users are required to be constantly going back, and using the information they gain through each iteration, update the tasks they have already ‘completed’. The two iterative segments, seen in Figure 1 as ‘Appreciation’ and ‘Define’, are two phases found within the early stages of the Client-Led Deign (CLD) framework. Starting with ‘Appreciation’, the user(s) are meant to, using the suggested tools (words in blue), analyse the ways in which the organisation currently handles its employee’s knowledge management. Through this analysis, the problem solvers should hope to gain an understanding of the ‘incentives’- why it is that individuals should share knowledge in an effective manner - and also the ‘requirements’ -  these are the reason the information/knowledge needing sharing in the first place. This does not, therefore, mean to do the study purely from management perspective, drawing on ETHICS and CLD, this methodology requires the intimate involvement of employees from all affected areas from any and all levels, more on participation later.

 

The segment ‘Define’ is where SSM is brought more into play, using tools such as Rich Pictures and Conceptual Models (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990; Monk & Howard, 1998), the individuals conducting the study are to create diagrammatic pictorials representing the information gained during the analysis of the ‘appreciation’ stage. During the creation of these images, users may notice discrepancies which didn’t arise during the initial analysis, this is where the iteration between the two stages, indicated by the middle arrow of Figure 1, comes into play. If any discrepancies should arise, then the ‘Problem Solvers’ (Checkland & Scholes, 1990) should go back to their initial analysis and reconsider the new information gained. Furthermore, this is the time when the problem solvers depict the ways through which knowledge is shared, the ‘representations’ if you like.

Once these stages have been completed, which is decided by consensus, then the group can begin combing all they have learnt into the final segment, named from the later stages of SSM as ‘Debate’. This stage is where the comparisons against the real world take place, along with debating what is “systemically desirable and culturally feasible” (Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012, p. 115). This comparison and discussion will lead to an understanding of the kind of system which would best suit the situation and facilitate the best perceived change, from the chosen perspectives, going forward.

It is important to note however, that this methodology does not dwell in how to actually do change, it simply ensures that any change which does occur improves the working environment, and still remain adaptable to future change. Secondly, while the author has decided to layout this report in a step by step format, this is not how the methodology actually works; it was designed to be adaptable, the user(s) should be able to start from any analytical point, but still finish with a comprehensive debate surrounding change.

The hope, of the author, is that the new methodology will improve the analysis which would have been gained if the users has used the original step 2D. Furthermore, it has the added benefit of giving users more visual outputs, meaning their purposes and analysis can be seen and clearly understood by other individuals much easier than they would have using step 2D.

Participation

It was briefly mentioned above that this methodology requires the involvement of different individuals. This is true. Within the methodology there will be four main roles for which individuals will find themselves placed; these are ‘facilitator’ (Mumford, 2013), ‘client’, ‘problem owner(s)’, and ‘problem solver(s)’ (Checkland, 2000), each of the roles are crucial and must be filled by the relevant person for a successful project.

Facilitator

The role of the facilitator is important, because this individual will be a guiding presence for the duration of the study. They will need to be an individual who is initially independent from the problem situation, who has training and human resources skills, and most crucially has the knowledge of the chosen methodology (Mumford, 2013, p. 38). Furthermore, this does not have to be an external individual, so long as they meet the requirements they can be an internal person from the company.

Client

This term is used daily in normal conversation, therefore, as pointed out by Checkland himself, the need to ensure there is no confusion or crossing of understanding as to its use within the project, is important (Checkland & Scholes, 1990). The client, for use in this methodology, is the individual, or group of individuals (such as a board of directors), who instigated the project, they are the reason that this study is being conducted.

Problem Solvers

This, usually, group of individuals, will be the team who go about actually conducting the study; the group will be compiled of, but not limited to, the individuals listed as ‘client’. Other potential individuals will be those affected by the change, those within the problem situation boundaries, managerial teams, and other individuals with investment within the system. While the client (above) is important, they do not override any other individual who may take part in the project; each individual is equal, and only judged on their level of participation with the study.

Problem Owners

This final, yet vitally important, group of individuals, is the group which consists of all individuals from whose perspective the contextual problem situation may be viewed during the analysis – the ‘W’ from CATWOE (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990; Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012), if you will. This group is chosen by the ‘Problem Solvers’, and usually consist of, but again is not limited to, those who is/are the ‘client(s)’ and the ‘problem solver(s)’. With this group it is critical to be a holistic as possible, just because it seems like a stakeholder does not realise there is a problem, for example a 3rd party heavily integrated into the system, does not mean they shouldn’t be considered an important part, or an important view point, of the study.

Step 2D 

It is important, from the author’s prospective, that readers have an appreciation of the original step from the Socio-Technical Toolbox (STT), otherwise it was felt that their feelings towards the newly designed methodology would be somewhat confused and clouded. Step 2D. was originally designed to aid in the support of “effective use of information and communication practices to support knowledgeable actions and interactions in the organisation” (Bednar, 2014, p. 46). This step was accomplished through the filling out of a template which, the author thinks, is fairly bland, simple, and unable to accomplish the job for which it was designed. It was at the beginning of the report that the author quoted the STT which stated that knowledge cannot be “captured, stored, and transferred” (Bednar, 2014, p. 46), therefore, expecting the user to fill out the template,  Figure 2, with words, hoping to describe the situation they are analysing, would have meant a total miss-representation of problematical situation.

The author does note that, yes, the requirements element may be sufficiently listed using linear prose, however, the other elements are best done through a combination of pictorial and prose formats. Which is where the new methodology, and the inclusion of differing methodologies, such as SSM, ETHICS, and CLD, all become important. It is through the incorporation of mind-maps, rich pictures, and conceptual models, which will help ensure the methodology is useful, truly representative of the problem situation, and understandable by all parties.

STAGE 1 - Appreciation

The first stage of this methodology is all about guiding the users, or the ‘Problem Solvers’ (see above), towards gaining an understanding or an appreciation of the current way in which the company operates in regards to knowledge sharing or knowledge management. This does not mean it focuses on expanding the appreciation individuals have for their role in the Human Activity System (HAS, (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990), nor for simply expanding their knowledge of the work done by their neighbours, the point of this step is for each individual, participating within the project, to gain an overall understanding of each of the roles within the problem situation, more specifically how each of the roles interconnect and interact with one another.

This appreciation is the result of four carefully chosen techniques (Client Mapping, System Boundaries, Analysis Two, and Analysis Three), these techniques work in an interactive manner, as was mentioned above, and seen in Figure 2. It is through the completion of this stage that the problem solvers will gain the majority of their understanding of how it is knowledge is currently shared within their chosen problematical situation. Furthermore, they will provide themselves with a number of views from which to look at the situation, as well as help themselves later during the debate stage to working towards a comprisable solution which suit all affected.

Furthermore, during this stage, the problem solvers should be able to identify, and therefore record, the incentives for knowledge sharing, as well as the requirements for it too. These are critical factor which need to be identified as they were part of the original step from the STT.

Task 1.1. Client Mapping

The need for the correct individuals to be a part of a study is something which, the author believes, cannot be understated or underestimated; as stated by Champion and Stowell (2001) “Reasons for non-involvement are as important as the reasons for participation” (p. 9). Evidence of incorrect user participation can be evidenced within ‘hard’ thinking (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990), it was suggested by Williams (2007), after noting a string of failing projects within the investment industry, that individuals, external to the project (Either entirely or after initial proceedings), were to be given the jobs of reviewing a project or making its ‘tough’ decisions. While notably different in context, the crucial point about involving the right individuals from the beginning, and through the duration of the project, is vital.

Furthermore, this is not just a typical stakeholder analysis where the users create a simple mind-map of all the individuals who are potentially affected by the study, the author has combined it with ‘Analysis One’ from SSM (Checkland & Scholes, 1990), and the ‘P’ or ‘Participant’ element from Champion’s PEArL framework (Champion, 2007; Champion & Stowell, 2001, 2003; Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012). With the combination of a stakeholder analysis, Analysis One, and the Participant element, the users should be able to identify and justify why it is individuals may, or may not have, been included within the study. Moreover, with the identification of the critical individuals to include in the projects, the problem solvers will be able to more quickly identify relevant points of view which can be use later in stage 2.

Template:

 

Task 1.1.

CLIENT MAPPING

Purpose:

The following template is to help you identify the individuals who should be considered within the study. These individuals will need to be able to be justified as to their inclusion within the study, or as to why they will not be a part of it. Furthermore, they will need to work with the bounds given to the project, meaning that this task needs to be used in close conjunction with that of task two.

 

Advice:

At the very beginning the list of individuals for who you, the business analyst, can confer with will be limited. However, there will be one known individual for certain, the project’s ‘Client’. Therefore, it is suggested that for the first iteration, you and they sit down and draw together a list of other individuals who could partake within the study.

So what does this methodology mean by ‘stakeholder’? Well any individual who is affected or will be affected by the study (Nutt & Backoff, 1992), any group or individual who has a stake in the current study (Business Dictionary, 2016; Oxford Dictionaries, 2016), an individual or group who has a responsibility towards an organisation and therefore the study (Cambridge English Dictionary, 2016). These are the vital individual who need to be identified for the study to be successful. To the right is Figure 7, this is only part of a good stakeholder map, this is the kind of diagram which users should be hoping to emulate by the end of this task.

One this has been compiled, it is then advised that you go on to do the same discussion with the individuals on this list, this will help further justify their inclusion or exclusion, and they may reveal new individuals who should be considered for the study. This template is limited to the amount of space it can offer, therefore, it is best that any analysis actually be done on a bigger blank piece of paper. If there are any doubt on whether or not an individual should be considered a stakeholder, then you can refer to the boundaries of the study which should help.

 

Part A – Brain Storming:

Together with the project’s client, make a list detailing out all the individuals who should be considered to be a part of the following study. The list should make reference to actual individuals, or socially identifiable roles, which fall within the project boundary. Try to answer the following:

 

Analysis One: Who is the Client?

Analysis One: Who are/ought the Problem Solvers be?

Analysis One: Who are/ought the Problem Owners be?

Participants: Why are they part of the project? / Why are they not?

Participants: Are there any transitory participants? If so why?

Participants: Why have certain individuals been left out of the study?

 

 

 

Part B – Mind-Map:

Once a list has been compiled through discussions with different individuals, it is best to transfer the ideas to a mind-map, this is so to better visualise and represent the ideas presented by different individuals in a way understandable by others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Task 1.2. Knowledge Boundary Analysis

The prime aim of this task is to aid with the choosing of correct individuals to be listed as probably problem ‘owners’ and ‘solvers’. The task begins with the ‘initial’ problem solvers, at this point probably only the ‘client’ and a few other obvious choices, gathering for brainstorming sessions, with the aim of identifying study bounds. Which then gets moved into mind-map format, which will help represent the relationships between ideas better, with the greater visual effects of the mind-map representing relations, other assumptions or conclusions can be made as well. This will lead to the final task, the creating of Rich Picture, which will aim to show the actual flow of the boundaries, as well as a pictorial format of inclusive and external parties to the system.

Overall, this task is useful for two purposes, first it focuses the project team by giving them bounds to work within; it makes “absolutely clear where its design responsibilities begin and end” (Mumford, 2013, p. 40). Secondly, it helps support, and further, any previous analysis, by potentially providing evidence as to why they should be included within the project; as well as giving evidence as to why others, who were excluded at first, should be included within the project, and vice versa.

Template:

 

Task 1.2.

KNOWLEDGE BOUNDARIES

Purpose:

The following template is to help you identify the boundaries of the project, more specifically, identify the boundaries between the individuals whose participation towards knowledge management you need to analyse, and those who you don’t. This task will also aid with the analysis of Task 1.1. The hope of this analysis is to also help justify why individuals should, or should not be considered important during the study. Finally, it will identify the limits that the problem solvers will have to work within, such as defining the limits they have towards project decisions.

Advice:

Overall, you are hoping to identify and justify why some individuals have been chosen to take part in the project, and others not. But to also help identify where the bounds of the project are, meaning a focus can be established ensuring that no tangents are created. Questions which need to be asked and answered are, how involved with the system is person / role A? How vital is there input? Or is this person’s role critical on the output of another job? You need to know about the management structure, so who can prevent something from happening.

Part A – Brain Storming:

This beginning part can be done either individually or as a group, you could even try both, however, the main point to remember is to ensure that enough detail is listed to ensure that there is confidence with the boundaries, and that they are not considered blurry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part B – Mind-Map:

Once initial talks have got you as far as you think they will, for the moment, you will need to place all the ideas into a mind map. The focus of this part should be expanding upon the justification of the inclusion of individuals from Task 1.1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part C – Rich Picture:

Finally, all the analysis which has so far occurred will need to be further developed into a Rich Picture, this will hope to visually represent links between differing individuals, help users gain a greater understanding of how knowledge flows within the problem situation, and will show conflicts and controlling entities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Task 1.3. Analysis Two

Knowledge, as was said above, is passed on through the act of mentoring or interaction with another individual, in the context of a problematical situation. This interaction indicates there must be some form of social system within the organisation, furthermore, this interaction is the catalyst for organisation change (Stacey, 2011). Through having a greater understanding of this clearly vital aspect of a problem situation, it is hoped the users gain an understanding of the requirement; this is the reason as to why communication occurs in the first place, ultimately, leading to the sharing of knowledge within an organisation.

The idea of this task is that the analysis gain from the first two activities, the identification of individuals within certain roles, will be further expressed here. Overall, the analysis is based on three concepts, that of ‘Role’ – which is a social position which is recognised as significant by people within the problem situation, ‘Norms’ – which are the expected behaviours which characterise the above ‘Role’, and ‘Values’ – Which are the local / corporate standards by which the performance of the individual within the role is judged (Checkland & Scholes, 1990). There should be emphasis upon the ‘Norms’ element, because this will describe the way in which a job is expected to be done, therefore, hinting towards why this ‘Role’ would need specific knowledge, or why they should be sharing knowledge.

Template:

Task 1.3.

ANALYSIS TWO

Purpose:

The purpose of the following template, is to guide users in to gaining an understanding of socially identifiable ‘Roles’ within the organisation; this will include aspects such as ‘Norms’ (I.E. How the role is meant to be done), and ‘Values’ (I.E. The way in which the role is judged). The hope for this template, is to identify the requirements for why knowledge needs to be shared in the first place; through understanding how the role needs to be completed, you will know why and what information it will need, so the role can be fulfilled. Furthermore, by understanding how it, and others are meant to be done, you will know why information this role contains will need to be shared. Finally, the idea is to discuss why it is that that potential role may need to change, what is it about that role which could be causing an issue.

Advice:

When completing this task, you should focus your questioning and analysis on individuals who actually carry out the role being analysed; further, you will need to talk to more than one individual who does the same role, while they do the same job, it does not mean they do it in the same way. Talking to individuals is not the only way in which this task can be completed, looking through corporate documents, such as training guides, may also help provide information which was unobtainable through communication. When discussing the ‘Values’ aspect of this task will be difficult, this is where subjectivity become widely abundant; while there will be organisational standards by which a role is judged, individuals will have their own standards too. Because this whole methodology is about being holistic it is worth noting these, they will offer greater insight into how individuals may be able to work closer together if people understand the intricate ways in which others think. Finally, one template should be completed for each role, also a Rich Picture could be produced for better visual representation.

Part A – ROLE:

The role is a socially identifiable job, or persona, within the current contextual situation. This could range from teacher to doctor, or it could be class clown to drunk. The only condition is that their identifiable role needs to be relevant to the current situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part B – NORMS:

The norms are the expected behaviours which characterise the above roll, filled by an individual. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part C – VALUES:

These are the individual, corporate, or local values or standards by which the performance of the person doing the above role is judged. This can be listed, or done in a mind-map, however the user feels this is best represented.

 

 

 

 

 


Task 1.4. Analysis Three

This final task in stage one revolves around the political or power layout within the problematical situation; this does mean, that that this task will need to be handled with the upmost care, and done in a manner which will not cause dispute within the problem solvers. However, how are the individuals meant to analyse something which, from a physical standpoint, doesn’t exist? This is where Stowell (1989) introduced the concept, of thinking of power as a ‘commodity’. As has already been said, knowledge can only be passed on through the interaction between humans, this interaction then allows for individual growth and promotion, as well as that of the organisation. However, if knowledge is so valuable and strategically important in aspects of individual professional lives, then there are going to be instances when some people decide to restrict the flow of knowledge for their own personal gain (I.E. moving themselves up the metaphorical corporate ladder).

Hence the point of this Third Analysis; through understanding the processes as to how power is obtained, exercised, preserved, and passed on, as well as its disposition, and nature, will help further the debates later as to how this idea of power can become a fair resource. One of the major points of including this task, is that through its completion the users should have a vivid idea as to the internal, as well as corporate, incentives as to why information and knowledge should be shared.

During the development of this task, the author decided that it would be best if he combined the different sections of the original Analysis Three (I.E. Disposition of Power, Nature of Power, and the processes through which it is obtained, exercised, preserved, and passed on). This was so users could create one large Rich Picture of Power, this would be able to encompass all the different elements within one diagrammatical image, meaning no need to keep flipping pages, or trying to find certain passages within texts. The author did think that this might complicate the task slightly, so an initial brainstorming session was included as well, in order for ideas to be brought forward first.

Template:

 

Task 1.4.

ANALYSIS THREE

Purpose:

This final task of stage one is all about representing the power disposition within a problematical situation; while mainly drawing on Checkland’s SSM Analysis Three (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990), this task has similarities with that of element ‘r’ or ‘Relationships’ from Champion’s PEArL mnemonic framework (Champion, 2007; Champion & Stowell, 2001, 2003; Frank A. Stowell & Welch, 2012). The methods through which power is used, gained, passed on, and exerted are critical aspects which need to be understood, otherwise individuals may try to use the system to their own advantage.

 

Advice:

During your analysis the idea is not to focus on the question “what is power?” as it is expected that all individuals within a problematical situation have an idea as to how to manipulate or influence others into doing or not doing something. The idea is to discuss the politics or power situation as a ‘commodity’ (Franklyn Arthur Stowell, 1989). You and your group need to understand how, through the precise application of knowledge, can individuals be conceived to be ‘powerful’, further you will need understand how conflicts work and are resolved within the problem situation. During the final stage of methodology is when the discussion come, however, compromises will need to be made, and how can any be reached if there is no understanding of the power plays within the contextual situation?

 

Part A – Brainstorming:

Working, at first, individually, list ideas which you think denote the disposition, or the layout of current power, as well as the nature of it; by this the author means the certain abilities a person would have to have, if indeed, they did have power within the contextual situation. You will also need to note ideas on how power is a) obtained (Do people grab it? Or are people promoted?), b) exercised (Is it excursed through being the chairperson of a committee? Or through withholding key knowledge?), c) preserved (Is there support? Or is it difficult?), d) passed on (Is this obscure? Is there no confidence in the role, owing to how it was passed on?).

 

 

 

Part B – Mind-map of Power:

To further express the ideas noted within the previous part, the next move will be to further expand upon them using a mind-map; the users will need to further express what they meant, and to indicate any relationships which they see to be present, such as friendships between management and next level down employees for example, which could indicate a biased flow of information. This needs to be done by all individuals.

 

 

 

 

Part C – Large Rich Picture of Power:

Once the mind-maps have been created, there may be overlaps in ideas from different individuals, to remove any potential duplicate ideas, the user is suggested to incorporate all the ideas into a single rich picture this will ensure an entirely holistic view of power within the current situation. Further, it can then be used to help teach and inform the other participants about other aspects of the situation.

 

 

 


Stage 2: Define

This next stage deals with the development of purposeful activity models (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990). The idea to develop models which reflect what has been observed within the ‘real’ world; models then make the basis of the arguments and discussions which will be had during the next stage of the methodology.

The objective of the problem solvers is to construct a statement, or Root Definition (RD), which declares a specific activity or process which is carried out within the problem situation and is agreed necessary by the whole group. Because this methodology is primarily focused on the sharing of knowledge within an organisation, and as previously stated this is mainly transferred through the interacting of humans, the focus of the majority of RDs need to be about humans interacting. While technology can be involved within the process, it should not be the main focus, for more see the example Root Definition below.

The idea is that users use tools such as PQR, CATWOE (Bergvall-Kareborn, Mirijamdotter, & Basden, 2004; Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990) and the 3Es, in order to support, justify, and add validity to their chosen RDs; the author decided the best option was to combine these into a single task, rather than split them as it would be easier on the users, if they thought that they needed to do them separately it may result in to generalised RDs, which would only result in a general problem solution.

Should the users wish, trying to express their activities in the form of Figure 6 may greatly help, as it will give them a simplistic diagram, and will help with identifying the relevant elements of CATWOE. Below, Figure 7, is an example the author has based on his time working with an external company during his second year of study. Finally, the users are expected here to begin looking at, or thinking about, the ways in which current and future representations of knowledge can be made within the organisation. If certain knowledge needs to be graphical then this needs to be explained or justified within this segment of the analysis.

Task 2.1. Purposeful Activities

AS was described in the above section, the purpose of the following task is to construct purposeful activity RDs which describe a specific activity or process identified within the first stage of this methodology. The purposeful activities which are chosen need to be done so as a group, the business analyst, while there to help, cannot be to influential he either; the problem solvers need to be the ones who choose the correct activities which to model.

Furthermore, it is expected that users follow the notion of multi-level thinking (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990), which means problem solvers need to choose a system, or purposeful action, which contains within itself a sub-system, and is itself a sub-system within a wider system. This sounds fairly complex, when in reality it is not. For example, the author of this report can be thought of as a system, he is comprised up of smaller sub systems (E.G. his organs), and is himself a subsystem in the wider context of society (This example is similar to that given within Checkland & Scholes, 1990). This form of multi-level thinking needs to be present when deciding on the relevant activities to model. There is a widely regarded concept within SSM that activities to be modelled should have “7±2” sub systems (Checkland, 2000; Checkland & Scholes, 1990); following this rule will ensure that all activities chosen will provide enough to analyse for the users.

When users begin to consider the “7±2” it may become apparent that they need to further expand upon sub-systems, this is to be encouraged. Finally, they are advised to do as many diagrams as they wish, this stage is very important as it will be the basis for the discussion in the next stage.

Example Root Definition

The author thought it best to give an example of a RD so that the users have a reference point for what it is that they are working towards. The author decided to use a different example from that above; he opted instead for an activity of him trying to share his knowledge about the unit with the unit lecturer. For the author to share his knowledge with the unit lecturer, he needed to produce this report, to produce this report he needed the use of a computer with word processing software. Therefore, a Root Definition could be:

“Produce a new methodology and report, by electronic means, in order to show and share knowledge with unit lecturer and achieve a grade for the unit”

These are the kind of statements which the author hopes the problem solvers will be constructing. Once a number of RDs have been constructed, how many depends on the contextual situation this methodology is being used within, they can then be comparably viewed to identify how they link, forming the overall system, and their relationships with other RDs.

Template:

Task 2.1.

PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITIES

Purpose:

The following task has the main purpose of producing Root Definitions for chosen purposeful activities. These activities, having been agreed on by the group, need to be expressed using CATWOE, PQR, and the 3Es. The main use of these RDs will be made clearer in the last stage of this methodology.

Advice:

This stage can be very confusing, the best advice which can be given for this task is to work closely with the business analyst (BA), while still remaining independent from them and ensuring that all the work produced is from the group conducting the study and not the BA.  Furthermore, trying to work through the stages one at a time may help some individuals, however, always remember that the goal is to work towards combining all the elements into a single Root Definition. The author has not included an identifiable step called, identifying purposeful activities, this the users need to do themselves, and the greatest advantage to them for choosing this methodology is that they will have basically listed their activities in task 1.3.

Part A – PQR:

The PQR formula is very simple, it is a simple way for users to remember how to structure the wording of the RD which needs to be constructed. Simply put, PQR stands for What to do? (P), How to do it? (Q), and Why to do it? (R). So for each chosen purposeful activities you need to answer the simple questions:

What? – the activity is meant to do

How? – the activity is meant to be done

Why? – is it being done? To achieve what?

Part B – CATWOE:

Once you have a basic understanding of the purposeful activity, gained through completing Part A (Above), you will then need to further expand upon it using the mnemonic CATWOE, the different elements and example can be found on page 15 of the authors report.

 

C – Customer:
A – Actor:
T – Transformation:
W – Weltanshauung:
O – Owner:
E – Environment:

Part C – Three E’s:

The three E’s are used as measuring or controlling variables, their purpose is to identify whether or not the selected activity is fulfilling its intended purpose to the best of its ability. This will mean the users will have to consider the following about their chosen activities:

 

Efficacy – Does the means work?

Efficiency – Are the minimum amount of resources being used?

Effectiveness – Does the T help the attainment of longer term goals related to O’s expressions?

 

Part D – Root Definition:

Once all of the above has been completed, and agreed upon by the group, then all the users need to do is compile it all into a couple of neat sentences which will form the Root Definition for that specific activity.

Part E – Diagrams:

This final part of the task is to develop all of the above into a purposeful diagram. The users can base their images on the example in Figure 7, however, please not this is very simplistic, and you would need to add great detail to make it valuable to your study. 

Stage 3: Debate

With the agreed completion of Stage Two, users now need to begin discussing the potentials of the future. This final stage of the methodology centres on the concept that the study was started because of perceived issues with a situation, which is why the analysis was done; now that the analysis is done how can its lessons be applied to produce a system which, possibly involving technology or not, is better from the different perspective listed in the previous analysis.

At the beginning of this report the author likened his methodology to that of SSM because he described the ADD methodology as being an iterative learning cycle, and something which is iterative, by definition, shouldn’t or couldn’t ever actually end. However, if no project actually ended then nothing would ever get changed. Therefore, this stage of the methodology is designed to bring with it a sense of closure to the project team; through having this sense of ending it gives users an actual goal to work towards instead of just being stuck in a constant loop of analysis.

Furthermore, the aim actively encourages users to begin debating with one another, further, it gives the discussions focus by advising the users what it is they should be focusing their analysis on; for example, they should be focusing on how support for individual employees, who may struggle to understand others, can be helped, or how improvements can be made to the quality level of the knowledge shared, and the quality of individual sense making practices too.

However, the author struggled to construct templates which would, he felt, best express his desire for what this stage, and its ensuing task, should accomplish. After referring back to the STT, he saw that it split the discussions into “Organisation Possibilities” (Bednar, 2014, p. 88) and “Technical Possibilities” (Bednar, 2014, p. 90). This gave the author the idea of doing something similar, however, altering the original templates to best suit his methodology’s needs. The idea of this stage is that the two tasks be completed in tandem, not sequentially, this is so to provide a greater discussion and to ensure that problem solvers do not inadvertently suggest or submit duplicate ideas. 

Task 3.1. Organisation Possibilities

Template:

Task 3.1.

ORGANISATION POSSIBILITIES

Purpose:

The following task is to be completed in conjunction with its partner, Task 3.2., this is because together they work towards creating a detailed discussion of the analysis which you would have completed by this point. The purpose of this specific task, is to discuss the ways in which the organisation itself could possibly change so as to improve the support given to colleagues (E.G. Create early morning meetings for all employees to attend), or to improve the quality of individual sense making (E.G. ensuring there is an atmosphere within the work environment which encourages the asking and answering of questions).

Advice:

For the following task, you need to take each of the previously identified purposeful activities, and describe two alternate ways in which an organisation change will help improve the situation. This needs to be done from the view point of the person whose Weltanshauung was used in the RD originally. It is only through their perspective that an improvement can be identified. When describing the two alternate options for change, consider the first option to involve less drastic changes, and then the second option to be more ambitious.  Before beginning this template in earnest, it is suggested that you take the basic ideas, and then list ideas, or mind-map them, on another piece of paper, this way it makes it easier for everyone within the participatory group to be able see ideas and suggest their own.

Option Description

Benefits

Drawbacks

Option 1:

Job Satisfaction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Job Satisfaction

 

Efficiency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efficiency

Option 2:

Job Satisfaction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Job Satisfaction

Efficiency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efficiency

       

 

Task 3.2. Technical Possibilities

Template:

Task 3.2.

TECHNICAL POSSIBILITIES

Purpose:

The following task is to be completed in conjunction with its partner, Task 3.2., this is because together they work towards creating a detailed discussion of the analysis which you would have completed by this point. The purpose of this specific task, is to discuss the ways in which the technology used by the organisation can be changed, which could mean the introduction of new technology, or just a simple update of the old, which will again help towards greater support and quality of knowledge management.

Advice:

This task needs to be completed in a similar manner to that of Task 3.1. (Above). Users will need to describe two options, for each of the identified purposeful activities, for how technology can be used to improve, from the viewpoint of the employee, the current situation. Again describe one option with minimal change, and with second be more ambitious about what could change. Before beginning this template in earnest, it is suggested that you take the basic ideas, and then list ideas, or mind-map them, on another piece of paper, this way it makes it easier for everyone within the participatory group to be able see ideas and suggest their own.

Option Description

Benefits

Drawbacks

Option 1:

Job Satisfaction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Job Satisfaction

 

Efficiency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efficiency

Option 2:

Job Satisfaction

 

 

 

 

 

 

Job Satisfaction

Efficiency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efficiency

       

 

Appendices

Appendix A – Log Book

Friday, 25th September 2015:

As today’s session was the first of the year Peter started by going over the course, he said that everything that we will need for the coursework is on Moodle and that we HAVE to use them. However, we can find our own as long as we use the ones on Moodle. He went on to mention the books we should read for this course but he said basically anything written by Checkland will be fine. 

 

The course is 100% coursework and we have to create, and subsequently evaluate, our own methodology. The methodology will be based around an objective which we will be told in the next couple of weeks; as a prerequisite Peter suggested starting to read the suggested books to start getting a proper understanding of SSM. This piece of coursework will need referencing and it will not be anonymous owing to peer reviewing later in the year. We must have a methodology which we are happy with by early 2016 (TBD) for this peer marking to occur, and once this has been submitted we cannot significantly alter the methodology (I.E. cannot change the stages but can sort any grammatical errors). He said to aim for around 5,000 words, and to keep a study diary which is what this document is.

 

I aim to start the reading by next week but first need to either go to the library or look online at buying my own copying but hopefully by next Wednesday (next lesson) I should have the books or have ordered them.

 

Once this topic had been covered and there were no more questions from students we moved on to an activity where we had to try and explain why Soft Systems Methods (SSM) was not compatible with System Development Lifecycle (SDLC). After some discussion with friends next to me we had some early ideas that it was because SSM is something to use when the problem you are trying to solve is not defined, it is not known for certain or can change throughout the duration of a project. On the other hand, SDLC is used when the team, company, people doing the project are 100% certain that they know what the problem is, are sure that it will not change. It turned out that we were actually practically spot on.

 

Tuesday, 29th September 2015

During some free time today I started on the suggested reading about SSM; the book which I decided to start with was Soft Systems Methodology in Action (Peter Checkland & Jim Scholes), from the outset I found that this book was very understandable and explained concepts it was talking about using examples which could be easily related to or imagined. One of the first notable points from the book is its brief introductory definition of SSM:

 

“It is an organised way of tackling messy situations in the real world. It is based on systems thinking, which enables it to be highly defined and described, but is flexible in use and broad in scope.” (p.1)

 

From here it goes on to talk about humans and how we have a tendency to want “answers to the most fundamental - and ultimately unanswerable - questions” (p.2) and backs this up by saying “The very existence of the world religions, and the fact that every culture develops its own myths concerning the nature of the world” (p.2) which shows the humans determination on having either the correct answer or at least a reasonable belief to questions. 

 

It mentions how some pieces of work can have multiple definitions for the word system and gives the example of “Jordan, 1965, p. 44-65, for example, offers fifteen” (p.4) but then it goes on to give its own definition as “A set of elements mutually related such that the set constitutes a while having properties as an entity” (p.4). The author then continues by saying how “the whole may be able to survive in a changing environment by taking control action in response to shocks from the environment” (p.4). This to me means that a system should never be fixed, it can never be stationary, or adaptable, this would be like building a sales system which adds the government set VAT percentage to items; then this percentage changes and the company is unable to change it because it has been fixed within the original coding of the system.

 

It then goes on to talk about the “Learning Cycle” which is a constantly evolving, constantly adaptive cycle which tries to bring about real world solutions / improvements which have been deemed necessary by those who carry out the processes as part of their jobs (p.4). 

 

The next interesting point is using the simple image of an arrow and little stick figures to explain the basic shape of SSM. It used the example of me reading the book, so ‘A’, or the purposeful task, is me reading the book, and I am also the stick figure ‘B’. Therefore, it stands to reason that I would also be element ‘D’, due to reading the book will have an effect on me once I have read it. Element ‘F’, or the role which has the ability to stop the task happening, would be the library from whom the book is loaned, and the final element, ‘E’, could be the time constraint, or loan period, of the book as this is an external factor which I cannot control.

 

 

 

 

Clearly this is just a simplistic look at SSM, the real world will be much harder and complex; however, the principle of it can be applied. First find out about a situation which causes an organisation some concern, then select some human activity tasks, or jobs, and make models of them and use these models to compare against the real world, then from the ensuing debates find ways of improving the problem area. At the end of the introductory chapter the book nicely and succinctly compacted it down into bullet points:

 

Human beings cannot help but attribute meaning to their perceptions of the world

Those meanings constitute interpretations of the world which can be thought of as deriving from experience-based knowledge of the world. The interpretations can inform intentions which can translate into purposeful action to improve situations perceived as lying somewhere on a scale from ‘less than perfect’ to ‘disastrous’. Purposeful action when taken changes the world as experienced so that 1, 2, 3, above constitute a cycle. The cycle can be expressed and operated by making use of systems thinking as an epistemology. SSM does that in a coherent process which is itself an enquiring or learning system. SSM seeks to provide help in articulating and operating the learning cycle from meanings to intentions to purposeful action without imposing the rigidity of a technique. This concluded the introductory chapter and this far as I read today. However, I did find it very interesting and think it will help greatly throughout the year.

 

Wednesday, 30th September 2015

Today’s session was a little bit of a mind hurter, there were questions which everyone who passed the second year should have been able to answer with some ease, and yet we all struggled. We first got into small groups and given a sheet of paper with some kind of introduction on, however, i personally don’t see its relevance to what we did with the questions; speaking of questions we then had a list of 7 which we had to work through as a group.

The first asked us about IS-professional behaviour, and my group and I found it very difficult to answer, after some talk with Peter we came to the conclusion it was to do with us being aware of individuals and the part that they play within a system, as well as the usual being there to facilitate beneficial change within the organisation from the perspective of the individual. The second question we had to look at was making us see if there are any special qualities that distinguish us from other technology professionals; it is safe to say this is the question that most of the class really struggled with. After a class discussion we were reminded that the toolbox that we used as part of our coursework last year contained methods and techniques which give us skills and knowledge which other professionals don`t have.

The third question was not a question it was just a statement; the fourth question was moving on to area generalities and asking if we thought there were any similarities between professional behaviour and organisational culture; this one the group found ok and we came to a reasoned ‘no’ answer but we did point out that they have minimal relationships but no similarities as asked in the question. Moving on to question five we had to discuss whether we thought an individual could affect their respective communities of practice or professional behaviour, and we all agreed that yes it definitely can be. For example, a doctor who pioneers a new medical procedure which helps saves lives will ultimately change his respective communities practice procedures.

On to the last two questions and six was a complete shamble for my group we really didn`t produce a coherent answer. Finally,

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