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Table 1 Glossary of terms and acronyms used in SSM

From: Re-energising the way we manage change in healthcare: the case for soft systems methodology and its application to evidence-based practice

SSM – Abbreviation for Soft Systems Methodology
Rich picture – Exploration of the problematical situation and description of it by making drawings of the situation, including the various stakeholders’ roles, and the structures and processes as well as the relationships between these.
Worldview – Underlying assumptions about the world, also known as weltanschauung in SSM.
Human activity system –The meaning of a system in SSM is a set of human activities aiming to achieve a purpose.
Purposeful activity – Defined by a transformation process, i.e. an input being transformed to an output, within the scope of a worldview.
Purposeful activity model (PAM) – A conceptual model for one or more aspects of the problematical situation outlining a set of purposeful activities relevant to the situation. The model is a set of linked activities that together makes up a purposeful whole.
Root definition – A statement describing the human activity system to be modelled.
CATWOE –A reminder to consider the following information about the human activity system:
 Customers –The beneficiaries or victims affected by the problematical situation and the improvement intervention.
 Actors –The individuals involved in performing the improvement intervention.
 Transformation – The change process.
 Worldview – Underlying assumptions that makes the improvement intervention worthwhile and important.
 Owners – The actors that are responsible for the improvement intervention and who decide whether it will be implemented or not.
 Environmental constraints and enablers – The contextual factors that may influence the problematical situation and the improvement intervention.
The PQR-formula – A formula useful for defining the root definition. It is applied by answering the questions: what should be done (P), how it should be done (Q) and why it should be done (R).
Three E’s – Criteria for assessing the outcomes of the improvement intervention, including:
 Efficacy – does the intervention produce the intended outcomes?
 Efficiency – is the improvement being achieved with minimum use of resources?
 Effectiveness – does the intervention help achieve some higher-level or longer-term aim?
  1. Explanations are based on Checkland and Poulter [19] but interpreted by us and adapted to a language more often used in relation to implementation and improvement science