Q1) groups: “We had high employee turnover


Soft Method:

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Step 1: Problem
situation unstructured





























Being a systems practitioner I started this stage by
collecting relevant information about how to improve performance of the call
center at Quest by Camacho the Executive Director of Quest’s National Customer
service. She will be responsible for two locations, one in Tampa, Florida, and
on in Lenexa, plus roughly 250 reps working remotely form home. The company’s
customer service function had been combined in 2013 when its 20 regional
customer service center were prepared down to two. The situation was that labor
costs were too high specifically reps, the customer were waiting over two
minutes on the phone for someone to answer them and reps were unable to give
the right information in one call, at 2008 Quest began to losing business to
its top competitors. Rusckowski helped articulate the firm’s vision, goals and
strategy. Davis recognized the problem of turnover for the NCS. Davis’s team
found that taking into account the cost of recruiting, on boarding, training
and time to full productivity, turnover was costing Quest $7,000 and $ 10,000
per departing employee.

One of the problems Davis identified, as a key to improvement
was high employee turnover across the network, particularly in the
customer-facing groups: “We had high employee turnover in our patient services
centers. We also had it in logistics, which, by the way, is customer
facing. Our logistics people go to doctor’s offices pick up
specimens, and they see the staff. They build relationships and those
relationships matter.” Turnover was especially problematic for the NCS.

Step 2: Rich Picture

The components of the rich picture illustrate
the main elements and features of this situation.
A rich picture is a way to explore, acknowledge and define a situation and
express it through diagrams to create a preliminary mental model. A rich
picture helps to open discussion and come to a broad, shared understanding of
situation. The description of the situation is depected as a picture using
diagrams, symblos, cartoons and words, it can be drawn by hand or
electronically. It helps to open discussion and come to a broad, shared
understanding of a situation. Camacho understood the challenges she faced and
knew Quest needed to tranform its operations at the NCS. The company suffered
from labor cost, reps not staying on job for long time, customer waiting over
two minutes for an answer and reps are unbale to give the right information.
Davis has been hired to improve the perfomance of the call center of Quest.


Step 3: Relevant system and their Root Definitions

I have to ask
myself three questions. What I want? How to achieve it? Why do in need to
achieve it? Identifying the CATWOE in the case of Quest.

refers to customers are important stakeholder, in Quest situation being the
patient who got care services.

the most professional people who carry activities and having high-qualified
skills, in the Quest case such as Davis who identified the problem of Quest

of the company’s inputs such as physical, financial and human resources. Davis
had been visible to lean production systems, inputs such as standardizing and
improving processes to improve quality, speed and costs, the output was
standardizing patient services, specimen processing and logistics

refers to point views or suggestion that improve the situation of Quest. Quest
offered a one-stop shop for diagnostic tests at prices that were lower than
what hospitals charged for in house testing.

refers to environment constraints such as new technology, strong competitors,
relating to the case is LabCorp, with 36,000 employees, 39 labs, and 1,750
patient service centers operating in 60 countries and with $6 billion in
revenue and $910 million.


Step 4: Conceptual

this stage it is my part to act and decide as a system practitioner through
contextualizing and managing the complexity that I have perceived within the
previous stage. Contextualizing of the complexity is done through conceptual
model based on the root definitions without referring to the real world
situation. Within the conceptual model, the root definitions are extended with
more details.











Step 5: Comparison
between step 2 and step 4


A Comparison table of the
conceptual model with the situation


Is it in situation?


Include in Agenda

Using Care360 by Physicians

True Quest has suffered
form low quality services

It is helpful to order

Yes included

Using Quest’s electronic medical record portal

True it is available in the
case of Quest

Enable to access the

Yes included

Accessing information about patient history

True the customers suffered
from delaying to get information

It enabled patients to make
better decisions

Not included

Use Quest Connect

True, it is not easy to access to the results of the

Good for physicians who
needed access to the results tests

Yes included

Through MyQuest, the patient portal

It is mentioned in the case

Patients could access their
own test results

Yes included

Issuing TQM

It is not appear in the
case of Quest company

It will improve the whole
overall performance

Not included


Step 6: Debate between


As the outcomes of the previous stages have
been discussed, in this stage actions should be measured. It is important in
this stage to argue and debate the suggested modifications with the troubled
stakeholders to reach a kind of consensus when making decisions. In this stage
I should respect all of stakeholders perspectives, suggestion and ideas. After
discussions of the recommendation, which is Using
Care360 by Physicians, Using Quest’s electronic medical record portal, Use
Quest Connect, Through MyQuest, the patient portal. The stakeholders decided to
eliminate some recommendations because it is costly, and they agreed by consensus
to using Care 360 by Physicians.


Step 7: Actions to
solve problem or improve the situation


This is the final activity provides the
monitoring and control loop that observes the performance of Quest company, and
provides feedback to control via the criteria setting activity. The
stakeholders role ended here and their recommendation will be in the hand of
the top manager to decide to make the change that improve the situation.

After applying the seven stages of
the SSM and using different diagrams like the spray diagram, rich picture, I
was able to juggle the four balls of the BECM and I was able to find the proper
actions to be taken to manage this complexity.


will use SWOT tool to analyze both external and internal environment that
affect Quest company performance and success. Quest US situation can be
observed using different tactics such as SWOT analysis. The approach is used
for different purpose. SWOT analysis is a structured method that used to assess
and identify the main strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of a
certain business or a situation.  It is a
method that can be used to investigate the internal (resources an capabilities)
and external (macro far environment – micro near environment) of a certain





of Quest include
Leading provider of diagnostic services
and solutions in US
Quest centralized procurement
and began standardizing patient services, specimen processing, and logistics.

include the main disadvantage of this system such:
Labor cost was so high
Employees especially reps were not
staying on the job for long time.
Customers were waiting over two
minutes on the phone just for someone to answer
Rep not able to give the right
Completion with small regional
and local esoteric laboratories



Quest offered a one-stop shop
for diagnostic tests at prices that were lower than what hospitals charged
for in house testing
Quest developed the Quest
Management System (QMS)

Company was losing its key
Laboratory Corporation most
notably when LabCorp won over one of Quest’s key customers.



Construction projects are faced with a
challenge that must not be underestimated. These projects are gradually
becoming greatly competitive, more complex, and problematic to manage. They
become problems that difficult to solve using traditional approaches. Soft
Systems Methodology (SSM) is a systems approach that is used for analysis and
problem solving in such complex and messy situations. SSM uses “systems
thinking” in a cycle of action research, learning and consideration to help
understand the various observations that exist in the minds of the different
people involved in the situation. This paper examines the assistances of
applying SSM to problems of knowledge management in construction project
management, principally those situations that are challenging to understand and
difficult to act. SSM thinking seeks to explore the messy problematic
situations that arise in human activity. However, rather than reducing the
complexity of the mess so that it can be modeled mathematically (Hard Systems),
Soft systems strive to learn from the different perceptions that exist in the
minds of the different people involved in the situation (Andrew, 2000). This
interpretive approach is strongly influenced by Vickers (1968, pp. 59,176)
description of the importance of appreciative systems in dealing with human
complexity. Soft Systems Methodology may be used to analyze any problem or
situation, but it is most appropriate where the problem cannot be formulated as
a search for an efficient means of achieving a defied end; a problem in which
ends, goals, purpose are themselves problematic.



System Approach system analyses, structured methods, system engineering,
operations research assume objective
reality of systems in the world. It is well-defined problem to be solved,
technical reasons principal; it is scientific approach to problem solving an
ideal solution. It is more traditional way of broadcasting systems or situations.
The hard methods contemplate systems that have a clear purpose and goals, and
are useful only for designing solutions that achieve those goals. These methods
view and information system as an input process coupled to that computational
process connected to an output process. They also view the process of problem
solving as being a clear straight. These methods, on the whole, only focus on
the in the information and computation elements and they do not focus on any
part of values, they ignore subjectivity cant deal with complicated issues,
which provide a basis for judging and deciding on actions. Hard method can deal
only with simple defined problems, lack interconnectedness and feedback between
components. So in the case of Quest the hard approach is not suitable form my
point view, because the problem of Quest is complicated one since it deals with
individuals and emotions, the problem that Quest suffered is the quality of
customer service the company deliver, which is complex issue that hard system
method can’t solve it or improve it. Engineering system approaches can be
inappropriate for soft problems with fuzzy requirements. One main descriptions
of the HSM is that it treats all problems in the same way moreover hard
structured problems or soft unstructured problems.

On the other hand Soft System Method can
deal with complex situation such as Quest situation. SSM assume organizational
problems are messy or poorly defined, stakeholders understand problems
inversely, no objective reality, human factors are important, creative,
intuitive approach to problem solving, outcomes are learning, better
understanding rather than a solution. This approach is needed when structured
methods alike have failed, when problems are messy and not well defined. This
technique is more creative in terms of problem solving as it addresses many
factors including human, cultural, ethics, and politics. It would be safe to
say that soft systems methodology looks at the interaction between people and
its business environment instead of just technology. By looking at the system
as a whole it recognizes that a change from one part of the systems may
influence another part of a system. It is called soft because it’s about people
and the way they relate to the environment. The systems are the way we use the
theory and put it into practices with people, relationship, objects and

Before decision the most appropriate
thinking system to be applied to Quest situation, it would be useful to
understand the nature of the complexity at hand to decide about the right
method. Apparently, the situation at hand is undefined and ill structured in
terms of the absence of clear objectives, as one can’t specifically identify
the objectives of Quest involved in this case. The company has different
stakeholders, different point views, competitors, customers and style
management. Davis faced a big challenge to improve the performance of the call
center of Quest; the situation has a large time scale to improve and involves
many parties. This is a messy situation as it deals with uncertainty and
unpredictable behavior. The soft system method differs from the hard system
method in terms of it deals with unstructured organizational situation and able
to determine what is going on and what it might be effective to do about it.
SSM is useful to get messy situations unstructured especially when the
objectives and intentions are nonexistent as in the Quest situation. Thus the
problem is undefined and in this way nonconventional system thinking is

In conclusion, there are many methods that
can be used to solve problems many of them are effective and well tested. The
nature of the situation identifies the best methodology to be used in providing
good solutions. In Quest situation SSM is more practical due to the complexity
and nature of the situation. It is a messy and undefined situation that suits
the nature of SSM







Wilson (2001) Soft Systems Methodology: Conceptual Model Building and its


Owen, A new View of Society and Other Writings, edited by Gergory Claeys,
Penguin, 1991.


R.(1994) “Why my former employees still work for me, Harvard Business Review,
January- February.