Posted by Eugene St. Clair on January, 17 2014 in Human Factors

In the design of complex systems under conventional practice, an effective embrace of system and system users that drives requirements 
from the top down is difficult and rare. In fact, perhaps the single greatest technical challenge in engineering complex systems is that of building systems around the people who will be using them. For naval vessels, the challenge is to build the ships around the sailors who will be sailing them 30-50 years after initial commissioning. Understanding the needs of the sailors over the ship’s entire service life is one of most important concerns in budgeting for total life cycle costs. In this effort, Systems Engineering and Human Systems Integration (HSI) methods and tools are often applied separately, with many HSI concerns addressed after the fact instead of when it would most benefit design, contributing to operability issues and complicating initiatives for more affordable ships.

Like many others, this paper affirms that an integrated Systems Engineering-HSI approach is fundamental to addressing these challenges, but it also recommends a structured, top down, decision oriented method for achieving this end. The method presented provides a framework for realizing improved traceability from desired capabilities to functional requirements and supports a robust negotiation for flexible and affordable solutions. 

This paper describes an approach based on understanding the decision landscape of system users/operators as decision makers and founded on the premise that every system can be described as an evolution of knowledge punctuated by decisions supported information and expertise. The paper explains how the method, known as Decision Oriented Systems Engineering (DOSE), bridges the gap from desired capabilities to functional requirements, how the approach closes the Systems Engineering-HSI gap, and in so doing provides several design benefits. 

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