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December 6, 2006 Curtis Johnson, Advanced Concepts Group and Dr. Gerold Yonas, PhD Vice President and Principal Scientist Sandia National Laboratories.

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Presentation on theme: "December 6, 2006 Curtis Johnson, Advanced Concepts Group and Dr. Gerold Yonas, PhD Vice President and Principal Scientist Sandia National Laboratories."— Presentation transcript:

1 December 6, 2006 Curtis Johnson, Advanced Concepts Group and Dr. Gerold Yonas, PhD Vice President and Principal Scientist Sandia National Laboratories SAND Number: P Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energys National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL The Wicked Future of Systems Engineering

2 Important Future Problems Are Wicked (i.e., Inherently Sociotechnical) Homeland Security Infrastructures Resilience Climate Change Peaking Oil The Long War Sustainable Cities Accelerated and Enhanced Education Development in the Third World Affordable Health Maintenance of an Aging Society Transitioning to Democracy and Beyond Biological and Genetic Threats and Opportunities

3 Wicked Problem Characteristics Causes and Effects are Elusive –Non-Linear –Many interdependent variables (feedback loops) –Delays and Distances No Definitive Description or Optimal State Multi-Minded –Systems Adapt –Individuals Optimize Locally Sensitive to Initial Conditions (History)

4 Causes and Effects are Elusive Its not just cars that cause traffic –Locations of homes, workplaces, stores and attractions –Cost of travel –Hours and times of work –Weather, car accidents and construction –New roads cause growth, which causes traffic –Alleviation of traffic shortens the time required for trips, which leads people to take more trips and causes traffic

5 Wicked Problems Have No Definitive Description or Optimal State Traffic is: –A quality-of-life problem –An environmental problem –A safety problem –A transportation problem –A symptom of urbanization –A productivity (economic) problem –A symptom of poor mass transit systems –A symptom of poor acceptance and implementation of telecommuting

6 Wicked Problems Involve Multi-Minded Systems Each person and each driver will adapt to changes and optimize locally, changing: –Routes –Jobs –Homes –Transportation modes –Habits –AND PERCEPTIONS AND VALUES

7 Wicked Problems Are Sensitive to Initial Conditions Values about transportation and cars Habitual routes Common speeds and rules of the road Where the houses and factories are now Where a single stalled vehicle is Etc.

8 Tame problems have similar characteristics 1.Well-defined problem statement 2.Definite stopping point 3.Right or wrong solution 4.Similar to others of same class 5.Solutions easily tried and dropped 6.Few alternate solutions Traditional wisdom for solving complex problems: the waterfall Jeff Conklin, Wicked Problems and Social Complexity

9 Linear solution approach to tame problems 1.Collect relevant information 2.Analyze 3.Formulate solution 4.Decide to implement solution 5.Implement solution Data/Info Collection Analysis Decision

10 Trying to tame a wicked problem can lead to: People taming wicked problems with different perspectives, backgrounds, organizations, and goals leads to escalating confusion, conflicts, and paralysis Pattern of cognitive activity of one wicked engineer: the jagged line Jeff Conklin, Wicked Problems and Social Complexity Defining the problem very narrowly and only from a technical perspective Unconsciously eliminating many possible solutions Assuming people are all the same and are the same even under different conditions Failure to anticipate consequences Ignoring the changing nature of the problem, our part in the problem, and the others trying to solve the problem from their own frame.

11 Step One: Recognize Wickedness

12 Step Two: Accept Wickedness Each problem at each moment is unique Every problem definition eliminates other valid definitions and limits the solution space You will never understand the whole system Studying and experimenting with the problem changes the problem Success changes the game (what works today will often not work tomorrow) You cannot control or stabilize the system You can anticipate outcomes but not predict them definitively

13 Step Three: Organize for Success Create a diverse team, including different: –Perspectives on the system and from within the system –Professions, academic backgrounds, genders, races, ages, religions, thinking styles, etc. Create an environment where those many voices are welcome Identify several different formulations of the problem Deliberately put yourselves in different shoes Plan for continuous data collection, analysis, decision-making, and action. Organize to make rapid decisions, even with limited data, and to adapt to changes quickly

14 Step Four: Use a Rational Approach Based on the Scientific Method 1.Observe, gather data, and describe the problem 2.Formulate an hypothesis 3.Make a prediction (If... Then...) 4.Test the hypothesis 5.Update description and hypothesis A scientific approach cant take out the complexity. It can ensure that the actions you take are rational given your assumptions and knowledge. More importantly, it can ensure that you know what you dont know, change your assumptions and problem definition when these are disproved, and that you learn as you go.

15 Step Five: Use Appropriate Tools Red Teams Gaming Modeling and Simulation –Agent-Based Models (simulates multi-mindedness) –Systems Dynamics Models Dialogue Mapping Social Network Analysis Informatics and Correlation Analysis Pinging and Experiments

16 General Principles for Working Complex Problems Continually gather information, revalidate assumptions, and consider alternate hypotheses Find ways to collect artificial or low-cost experience and test hypotheses Look for underlying structures, causes and motivations (an art, not a science) Always look at a problem from multiple frames Leverage the energy in the system; dont oppose it Be ready to adapt even when you are successful Dynamic stability is more robust than controlled, or static, stability a little chaos is good! Focus on the people more than the technology, the facts, or the stuff

17 Implications for Engineering Engineers can no longer ask for clear technical requirements and then retreat to their comfort zone. Engineers must be able to participate effectively in formulating the whole sociotechnical mess. A technical person should understand the whole problem and how much leverage is in technical means before suggesting more research or asking for a lot of money to create a technical fix. We must learn to engineer systems that are only triggers for social change and tools that are designed to evolve with use in unpredictable ways.

18 Benefits to Engineering of Going Wicked Engineers will better understand their customers, communicate better with their customers, be more valued by their customers, and better see the big picture they are working on Engineering will appeal to a much more diverse set of people, including more entrepreneurial people, more socially oriented people, and likely more women. Engineering will be more valued by society Engineers will be more attractive to the opposite sex (just kidding)

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