Systems Engineering has many hundreds of “guiding propositions”, variously referred to as principles, heuristics, tenets, axioms, guidelines, elementary assumptions, accepted truths, basic rules, basic ideas, generalizations, fundamental truths, hypotheses, etc. Although the “guiding propositions” are similar in that they all support purposeful judgement or action in a context, they can vary greatly in scope, authority and conferred capability. The nomenclature for referring to “guiding propositions” is not standardised and the relationships between types of “guiding propositions” is poorly understood. All these factors make it problematic to organize, qualify, teach and appropriately apply these propositions. This became an acute challenge for INCOSE in 2020, and the “Bridge Team”, consisting of Peter Brook, David Rousseau and Mike Pennotti was established to develop a Conceptual Bridge between two substantial INCOSE FuSE Projects, one collating SE Heuristics (led by Dorothy McKinney) and another collating SE Principles (led by Mike Watson). The Bridge Team determined that much of the confusion caused by the diverse terminology can be resolved if we rather classify guiding propositions according to their many sources, and explore their evolution in terms of the means by which they can be refined.
In this presentation, David Rousseau will present a new framework developed by the Bridge Team, by which we can gain insight in how and where guiding propositions originate, how they evolve from tentative patterns towards hyper-general systems principles, and how this refinement supports the evolution of Systems Engineering towards transdisciplinarity and elegant design.
Understanding this framework can help us to identify gaps and immaturities and our guiding propositions, and guide us towards having a more rounded, more compact and more capable set of guiding propositions for SE. Doing such work is increasingly urgent in the light of the emergence of Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0.
David Rousseau BEng PhD FRSA: David is the Director of the Centre for Systems Philosophy (UK), and a Research Associate in the School of Engineering at Oregon State University. He has an academic background in engineering and philosophy, and professional experience in the areas of military systems acquisition, semiconductor manufacturing, and academic research. He is an INCOSE Fellow, and a full member of the SE Honor Society, the Omega Alpha Association. He currently serves on the Scientific Council of the Bertalanffy Centre for the Study of Systems Science (Austria), and is a past Editor-in-Chief of their journal Systema (2013-2016). He is a Past President (2018) and the current Chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, Commerce and Manufactures.
His current research is focused on expanding the scientific foundations of systems thinking by refining and extending the concepts, principles and methods of Systemology, and contributing to the emerging paradigms of elegant design and transdisciplinarity in systems engineering and frontier research. He has published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and edited books, and received the 2019 “Outstanding Article Award” from INCOSE’s INSIGHT Magazine for his article “Systems Principles, Systems Science and the Future of Systems Engineering.