Soft system methodology (SSM) is described as a system-based methodology for tackling real world problems. SSM may be used as a means of articulating complex social processes in a particular way. SSM allows peoples' viewpoints and assumptions about the world to be bought to light, challenged and tested. This paper reports on the use of SSM in a service-focussed study (SFS) to explore the role of a personal tutor in nurse education. [Checkland, P., 1981. Systems Thinking Systems Practice. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester] highlighted the importance of considering cultural, social and political systems in the analysis. The seven stages of SSM are discussed in relation to the SFS and some of the findings are expressed through a 'Rich Picture'. It encourages commitment, brings diverse interests together and opens up the organizational culture. It also enables feasible and desirable changes to be recommended within the context of limited resources and competing demands upon lecturers' time. The SSM was an appropriate systematic model for this study and could be potentially useful in nurse education research.
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