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Wednesday, August 5 • 16:30 - 17:00
Understanding Systems Engineering Project Development – A Traditional and Complex Adaptive Systems View

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Systems Engineering projects often fail to meet expectations in terms of timescales and cost. Project plans, which determine cost and deadline expectations, are produced and monitored within a reductionist paradigm. This assumes that the cumulative activities, and their corresponding durations, that comprise the developed solution can be known in advance, and that monitoring and management intervention can ensure satisfactory delivery of an adequate solution, through implementation of this plan.  

An ongoing research effort within Thales UK investigates the influence of complexity in the development of systems engineering solutions, and the impact that complexity may have in the ability of organisations to meet delivery expectations. 

This paper presents a case study that examines the systems engineering function within a Thales UK business line.  The focus is the organisation, in particular how it supports the technical development of projects - what it does, how it works and why. The research is exploratory. It gathers evidence through participant-observation, interviews, documentation, and archival records. It considers two perspectives; a ‘traditional’, predominantly reductionist perspective, and a novel CAS perspective. Evidence is analysed in light of both perspectives to consider how each is able to explain the observations.

Research that considers an organisation as a CAS is predominately theoretical, rather than empirical. No reports of empirical research that consider organisations performing complex system development as CAS were found in the literature.  Research that considers the delivery performance of systems engineering projects is predominately reductionist. This paper contributes by viewing a systems engineering development organisation as a CAS, and considering the novel insights this perspective brings to the issue of satisfactory project delivery.

Keywords: Systems Engineering Development; Reductionist; Complex Adaptive System; Empirical Research.


Presenter / Artist
avatar for Dawn Gilbert

Dawn Gilbert

Research Engineer, University of Bristol
EngD in Systems Student - Research covers theory and interventions surrounding problems faced by systems engineering practitioners in an industrial setting. I am an embedded researcher within Thales UK.

Wednesday August 5, 2015 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
Stockholm 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

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