Title: Towards integrating systems thinking into systems engineering: theory and application in development of capability concepts

Authors: Ksenia Ivanova; Sondoss Elsawah

Addresses: Joint and Operations Analysis Division, Defence Science and Technology Group, Adelaide, SA 5111, Australia ' Capability Systems Centre, University of New South Wales Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Abstract: Systems thinking encompasses an extensive range of methods based on established theoretical traditions that can be valuable in the early stages of systems engineering and system of systems engineering projects. Despite the growing recognition of the complex and systemic nature of contemporary systems engineering endeavours, there are few reports of the application of systems thinking methods in this context. In our study, we propose a methodological framework for applying systems thinking methods to the concept phase of capability development. We illustrate application of the framework across five cases in the military domain, with a particular focus on iterative refinement of workshop designs through theory-practice cycles. In reflecting on the generalisability of our study findings, we discuss the theoretical implications and provide a set of practical tips for systems engineering practitioners who may be interested in exploring systems thinking methods within their own practice.

Keywords: systems thinking; systems engineering; SoSE; system of systems engineering; multi-method; capability concepts; problem structuring methods; CSP; critical systems practice; complex systems; logistic operations; workshop design; theory practice cycles; emerging technology; critical systems thinking.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSE.2022.10044602

International Journal of System of Systems Engineering, 2022 Vol.12 No.2, pp.175 - 200

Received: 11 Mar 2021
Accepted: 07 Apr 2021

Published online: 19 Aug 2022 *

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