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Table 1 Glossary of tools, terms and acronyms used in SSM

From: Change and improvement 50 years in the making: a scoping review of the use of soft systems methodology in healthcare

Rich picture – An illustrative picture of the structures, processes and actors involved in the problem situation and the interdependencies between these.
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 mnemonic 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 the situation and 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).
Five 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?
Ethicality – is the intervention morally appropriate?
Elegance – is it an aesthetically pleasing intervention?