Title: Advancing enquiry for system of systems engineering: paradox, critical thinking, and critical systems enquiry

Authors: Charles B. Keating; James C. Pyne; Joseph M. Bradley

Addresses: National Centers for System of Systems Engineering, Old Dominion University, 2101 Engineering Systems Building Norfolk, VA 23529, USA ' National Centers for System of Systems Engineering, Old Dominion University, 2101 Engineering Systems Building Norfolk, VA 23529, USA ' National Centers for System of Systems Engineering, Old Dominion University, 2101 Engineering Systems Building Norfolk, VA 23529, USA

Abstract: The complex nature of the system of systems engineering (SoSE) field and problems it addresses amplifies the need for effective enquiry. Enquiry serves to invoke higher level thinking that can better ground exploration of SoSE problems. Effective enquiry for SoSE practice is an essential first act in any SoSE endeavour and serves to frame all that follows. This paper explores three approaches to enquiry that can support more rigorous formulation of SoSE endeavours. First, paradox is introduced through a series of apparent contradictions for complex systems. The 'resolution' of these paradoxes invites thinking (enquiry) at a more systemic level, providing insights not achievable from more traditional modes of thinking. Second, we examine the field of critical thinking as a vehicle to invoke more rigorous thinking about complex issues in SoSE. Finally, critical systems enquiry is introduced through a set of eight critical questions to invoke deeper exploration for SoSE-based efforts. The invitation of these three different, but interrelated, enquiry streams provides a guide to elevate thinking for SoSE practitioners hoping to avoid 'thinking failures'. The paper concludes by suggesting challenges for practitioners, researchers, and the evolving SoSE field concerning development, incorporation, and prospects for more advanced systems-based enquiry.

Keywords: critical systems enquiry; paradox; system of systems engineering; SoSE; critical thinking.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSE.2015.075489

International Journal of System of Systems Engineering, 2015 Vol.6 No.4, pp.327 - 354

Received: 27 Jan 2016
Accepted: 02 Feb 2016

Published online: 24 Mar 2016 *

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