Art & Science of Systems Design - NEW

Systems Design is the basis of systems engineering. As engineering design is to engineering manufacture, or architectural design is to civil engineering,  so Systems Design is to Systems Engineering: you cannot sensibly have one without the  other. Only, since “systems” are ubiquitous, Systems Design is necessarily broader: a Systems Design might be of a new transport system, a new company or organization, a new microcircuit layout, a new medical procedure, a new variant of an existing aircraft type, a new Mars explorer together with its support facilities and communications back on Earth, and so on.

Systems Design has to start somewhere. What does that mean? Well, an international architect taking on a major new project for, say, an opera house in the centre of a city, will require a “brief.” This brief will outline what the customer wants in general terms, what constraints there may be on potential solutions, but will not – repeat NOT – describe or delineate the proposed opera house. Why not? Well, the architect is being employed because of his reputed skill, flair, ingenuity and originality. For the customer to describe their vision of the opera house would be to inhibit both architect and innovation.

Similarly Systems Designers do not need to know – are perhaps better off not knowing – the customer's vision of the intended System-to-be-created. Instead, the practice has grown for the “brief” to describe the customer’s problem.  

One major advantage of starting from the customer’s problem – as experience has shown – is that the customer may be too close to the problem to see it in its entirety. 

The Systems Designer may then explore the customer’s problem in depth, only to find that there  may be root problems,  yet to be exposed. Solving that root problem is more likely to give customers what they need. Similarly, solving the customer’s stated problem – rather than the root – may provide the customer with, at best, a short term solution, or perhaps no real solution at all. And, will customers blame themselves in such situations? Hardly. 

Systems Design is, usually, a team effort. And there are phases, starting with the Problem Solving Phase. But, why not watch the video to see more—it is quite short, at 17m 18s. Enjoy!!