CATWOE is a mnemonic acronym whereby problem owners are facilitated to consider the following of a desired system:
C – Customer – who would be victims/ beneficiaries of the purposeful action?
A – Actors – who would do the activities?
T – Transformation Process – What is the purposeful activity? Expressed as:
Input => Throughput/Transformation => Output
W – Weltanschauung (Worldview) – What view of the world makes the definition meaningful?
O – Owner – Who could stop this activity/ make or break the system?
E – Environmental Factors – What factors affect the environment?
The transformation process or T must contain outputs that are of the same nature as an input. They must both either be concrete or abstract… logical or physical, but not a mix of the two states of expression.
The quality of a transformation may be further judged by another mnemonic — the 5 E’s:
Efficacy Do the means work to justify the ends?
Efficiency Are minimum and necessary resources being considered?
Effectiveness Does the T help the attainment of longer term goals related to the O’s expectations?
Ethicality Is T a moral thing to do?
Elegance Is T aesthetically pleasing?
Worldview or Weltanschauung is a declared, overall perspective of the system as a whole. This view determines, in part, how the system is to be considered. Components of a worldview often include values or what is good or bad, what is desirable or undesirable, what is interesting or not interesting, or what the (often assumed, but unstated) intended goals or objectives of a system are. For example, a prison may be viewed as a reform institute or a place of punishment. The view always depends upon the key player and problem owner making an observation about their perspective of the world.
Checkland, Peter B and Davies, Lynda J (1986) The Use of the Term ‘Weltanschauung’ in Soft Systems Methodology Journal of Applied Systems Analysis, Vol 13.
Checkland, Peter B and Scholes, J (1990) Soft Systems Methodology in Action Chichester: Wiley.
This info taken from material Copyright © March 1999, Julie Travis and John R. Venable.
Original SSM material courtesy of Julie Travis Ó August 1998 Last modified: Monday, 22 March 1999