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Design of Complex Programs as Sociotechnical Systems

Chapter

Abstract

Following the introduction of systems thinking concepts in Chap. 3, we demonstrate here the treatment of complex engineering projects as sociotechnical systems in practical engineering practice. This approach, called Project Design, enables concurrent engineering (CE) teams to foresee the influence of project architecture, behaviors, dependencies, and complexity on emergent performance, thereby reducing the occurrence of unpleasant surprises. We have seen in multiple industrial cases this method as a source of new thinking and practices relevant to CE, with supporting tools and processes. Past assumptions about standard work practices may be tested, including such factors as degree of concurrency, phasing, roles, technology decomposition, system interfaces, and risk and its reduction. If embedded behaviors, in interplay with the total project architecture, lead to surprising negative or positive performance, the design of the engineering project as a sociotechnical system begins with un-learning, then awareness, and then learning of the project approaches more likely to produce positive results. The design of concurrency is specific to the nature of the social and technical elements of the system and its architecture.

Keywords

Sociotechnical systems Project design Collaborative engineering Simulation-based planning Scheduling Complexity Teamwork Learning 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Engineering Systems DivisionMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Global Project DesignBostonUSA

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