Define/take action to improve the situation, seek accommodation


Identifying different world views and seeking ways for improvement, means finding an accommodation, this is “a version of the situation which different people with different worldviews could nevertheless live with” (Checkland and Poulter 2010 p. 55). Checkland and Poulter (Checkland and Poulter 2010) explicitly differentiate accommodation from consensus. Consensus is static and suggests that everyone agrees about everything, while accommodation “emphasizes the provisional and even precarious character of an agreement between different interests and perspectives” (Vandenbroeck 2015). Accommodations involve compromise or some yielding of position. It is a necessary step in moving to deciding about what to do in a particular situation.

As discussion based on using models to question the problematical situation proceeds, worldviews will be surfaced, entrenched positions may shift, and possible accommodations may emerge. Any such accommodation will entail making changes to the situation, if it is to become less problematical, and discussion can begin to focus on finding some changes which are both arguably desirable and culturally feasible. In practical terms it is a good idea not to try and discuss the abstract idea ‘accommodation’ directly. It is best approached obliquely through considering what changes might be made in the situation and what consequences would follow. The practical way forward in seeking accommodation is by exploring possible changes and noting reactions to them” (Checkland and Poulter 2010) p. 58).

Change in real situations usually entails making changes to structures, processes or procedures, and attitudes. Structure is the easiest to change. But new structures usually require both new processes and new attitudes on the part of those carrying out the processes or being affected by them.


Questions which can inspire discussions leading to accommodation are:

  • What combination of structural, process and attitudinal change is needed?
  • Why?
  • How can it be achieved?
  • What enabling action is also required?
  • Who will take action?
  • When?
  • What criteria will judge
  •  success/lack of success
  • completion

These questions represent things to think about when considering changes which are both desirable and feasible. The question about “enabling action” refers to which actions are needed to make a potential change accepted. This recognises the social context in which any change is embedded. Because of this context, introducing the change may require enabling action, which is not directly part of the change itself.


Concluding remark:

Notice that the four stages of the SSM learning cycle should not be treated as a sequence of steps. “Although virtually all investigations will be initiated by finding out about the problematical situation, once SSM is being used, activity will go on simultaneously in more than one of the ‘steps’” (Checkland and Poulter 2010) p. 14).