Difference between revisions of "Socio-Technical Features of Systems of Systems"

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==Human and organizational nature of SoS==
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SoS contain many types of systems among which are, what are often termed, Enterprise Systems (Chen et. al. 2008).  There are many different definitions of ''enterprise'': within a SoS environment an enterprise system could be described as a complex, socio-technical system that comprises interdependent resources of people, information, and technology that must interact with each other and their environment in support of a common mission.  Emerging ‘soft’ issues critical to the design and operation of Systems of Systems can be identified as follows (see Hubbard et. al. 2010),
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'''''Lead Authors:''''' ''Judith Dawson, Mike Henshaw, Bud Lawson'', '''''Contributing Authors:''''' ''Heidi Davidz, Alan Faisandier''
*Decision making in SoS, including issues in autonomy, authority, responsibility and ethics
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*Measures of Enterprise SoS performance
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In perhaps the earliest reference to Systems of Systems (SoS), Ackoff (1971) describes a concept that is mostly concerned with organizations, i.e. social. However, this section is concerned with the socio-technical aspects of technical SoS, which are composed of interdependent resources, such as, people, processes, information, and technology that interact with each other and with their environment in support of a common mission (glossary).
*Impact of culture and cultural attributes on multinational and multicultural team performance
 
*Systems of Systems Ethics, Governance, and Regulation
 
*Systems of Systems experimentation
 
*Shared/distributed situational awareness
 
*Alternative approaches to training e.g. virtual reality, gaming
 
*SoS lead and lag ‘soft’ metrics e.g. improved mental and physical workload measurement techniques
 
*Enterprise System Agility and resilience e.g. dynamic allocation and reallocation of function, the human in the loop
 
*Enterprise SoS Leadership and motivational issues
 
  
The holy grail of being able to look into the future by evaluating the effectiveness, impact or added value of alternative enterprise system configurations, prior to deployment, is still a long way off.  Such a capability would greatly enhance an enterprise’s ability to dynamically (re-)configure appropriate systems (people, process, and technology) to achieve the performance required to produce designated capability in different contexts and to avoid enterprise structures that are susceptible to undesirable emergent behaviour including adverse circumstances such as accidents, disasters.  Enterprise System models not only provide the means to visualize, represent, and analyse the inner workings of an Enterprise SoS, but can also constitute the building blocks of an Enterprise SoS Architecture (EA).
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==The Socio-Technical Nature of Systems of Systems==
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Rebovich (2009) [ has captured the essence of the SoS problem as:
  
An Enterprise Architecture is an architecture of an organization that supports strategy, analysis, and planning by stakeholders to determine how the organization can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives. (1) An Enterprise Architecture Framework provides a methodology to describe how an Enterprise Architecture is organized, structured, and operates in terms of people, processes, product, IT and resources in order to achieve its goal.(1A)
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“From a single-system community’s perspective, its part of the SoS capability represents additional obligations, constraints and complexities. Rarely is participation in an (sic) SoS seen as a net gain from the viewpoint of single-system stakeholders.
1 + 1A = tiger team document (replace with appropriate description)
 
  
Existing models and enterprise system architectures and Frameworks (e.g. Zachman, CIMOSA, GERAM, VERAM, ToVE , PERA  Dodaf, MODAF) tend to deal with enterprise elements such as Resources, Information Flows and Functions well, but a) within a process framework and b) they do not show a sufficient capability to include ''soft'' enterprise characteristics such as policies, culture, competencies, decision making structures etc. within dynamic models. Hence, changes in one or more of these characteristics are not shown in overall organisational system performance. The following points can be made with reference to EAs:
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Three of the persistent SoS challenges, or pain points, identified by Dahmann (2015) are directly related to this problem of stakeholder perspective and the local optimization of constituent system performance at the expense, or to the detriment of, the overall SoS performance. These are: SoS Authority, Leadership, and Autonomy, Interdependencies & Emergence. Thus, the sociological aspects affecting decision making and human behaviors must be given similar weight to the technical aspects of SoS.
  
*Architecture is foundational for managing modern enterprises and planning enterprise integration.
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Turning to views outside of Systems Engineering, Ergonomists regard socio-technical systems as having the following characteristics (Maguire, 2014):
*An EA framework is an organized collection of ingredients (tools, methodologies, modeling languages, models, etc.) necessary to architect or re-architect whole or part of an enterprise.
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* There are collective operational tasks,  
*For a given enterprise, the enterprise architecture describes the relationships among the mission assigned to the enterprise, the work the enterprise does, the information the enterprise uses, and the physical means, human labor, and information technology that the enterprise needs.
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* They contain social and technical sub-systems,  
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* They are open systems (i.e. strongly interacting with their environments), and
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* The concept of the system being an unfinished system.
  
The prime advantage of an EA is to provide a common view (in the form of models) of what is going on in the enterprise to relevant actors or stakeholders of the enterpriseThe second decisive advantage of an EA is that it provides a sound basis for the management of change that occurs throughout the life cycle of the enterprise. Vernadat (1996) combines the two methodologies of enterprise modeling and enterprise integration and advocates a systematic engineering approach called Enterprise Engineering, for modeling, analysing, designing and implementing integrated enterprise systems.
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These are also characteristics of Systems of Systems.  Klein (2014) has noted that approaches to socio-technical systems can take the two perspectives of “system affects people” or “people affect system”, depending upon how the [[What is a System?|system boundary is drawn]]It is generally true for systems that consideration of their context requires socio-technical aspects to be taken into account.
  
Enterprise modelling (EM) is concerned with the representation and specification of the various aspects of enterprise operations; namely, functional aspects to describe what are the things to be done and in which order; informational aspects to describe which objects are used or processed; resource aspects to describe what or who performs things and according to which policy; and organisational aspects to describe the organisational structure and the responsibility frame within which things are being done. These Enterprise System models can be combined within an EA framework to provide a dynamic overview of the enterprise system.
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Although focused largely on IT systems, Baxter and Sommerville (2011) have noted that the introduction of new business SoS are generally carried out in conjunction with a change process. They argue that frequently the social and organizational aspects are disruptive and that inadequate attention is paid to the connection between change processes and systems development processes. They propose two types of Socio-Technical Systems Engineering activities:
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* Sensitizing and awareness activities, designed to sensitize stakeholders to the concerns of other stakeholders.
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* Constructive engagement activities, which are largely concerned with deriving requirements accurately and meaningfully.
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The extent to which these activities can be effective may be challenged by independent management or operation of constituent systems in a SoS.
  
Although there are several models available to assess the structure and performance of organisations (e.g. Castka 2001; Curtis et. al. 2001; Tannenbaum et. al. 1996), few if any of these models provide quantitative and qualitative measures of performance and none are truly able to provide a direct multi-point, measurable cause and effect link between the various ''soft'' attributes of an enterprise system and its performanceIt is clear, though, that success factors from a human perspective do centre upon the structure of communication (stakeholder management) and decision making processes and systems within the overall System of Systems
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Although there are many matters concerning the socio-technical aspects of SoS, there are two important issues, that are dealt with her. The first is the need for appropriate governance structures, given that operational and/or managerial independence affects top-down direction of the SoS and may compromise achievement of the SoS goal(s)The second issue is a lack of situational awareness of managers, operators, or other stakeholders of the SoS, so that they may not understand the impact of their local decisions on the wider SoS.
  
==Governance in SoS==
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==SoS Governance==
==The SoS mindset==
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Generally, design and operation of complex systems is concerned with control, but the classification of SoS (Dahmann, et. al., 2008) is based on the notion of diminishing central control, as the types go from directed to virtual.  Sauser, et. al. (2009) has described the ‘control paradox of SoS’ and asserted that for SoS, ‘management’ is replaced by ‘governance’.  ‘Control is a function of rules, time, and bandwidth; whereas command is a function of trusts, influence, fidelity, and agility’.
SoS problems often exhibit many of the characteristics of so-called ''wicked problem'' (Rittel and Webber 1973): problems are extremely complex and not bounded or stable; they do not have unique, right solutions, but rather solutions that are either better or worse than others, and they do not have a definitive formulation; SoS requirements are often volatile with changing constraints and moving targets; stakeholders have different views; and understanding the whole context is difficult and critical. SoS problems relate to both hard (mechanical, electronic, software) and soft (people, organizations, regulatory) systems considerations and research must nowadays include mixed methods and approaches (Conklin 2005) that include both quantitative and qualitative techniques, making this a very challenging area intellectually.
 
  
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Some practitioners have found the Cynefin framework, developed by David Snowden, helpful in understanding the nature of complexity that may arise in SoS. Developed from knowledge management considerations, Kurtz and Snowden (2003) propose three reasons why the behavior of systems involving people may be difficult to predict. Firstly, humans are not limited to one identity, and so modelling human behaviors using norms may not be reliable. Secondly, humans are not limited to acting in accordance with predetermined rules. Thirdly, humans are not limited to acting on local patterns. These reasons all undermine control, so that the sociological aspects of SoS make their behaviours hard to predict and, possibly indeterminate.  The Cynefin framework considers systems to be classified in four domains:
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* Known – simple systems with predictable and repeatable cause and effect
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* Knowable – amenable to systems thinking and analytical/reductionist methods
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* Complex – adaptive systems where cause and effect are only discernable in retrospect and do not repeat
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* Chaotic – no cause and effect relationships are perceivable
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The different types of SoS (directed, acknowledged, collaborative, and virtual) could all be described in any of the above domains, depending on many factors internal to the SoS, but in all cases it is the sociological element of the socio-technical SoS that is most likely to give rise to ambiguity in predicting behavior.
  
==References==
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A major governance issue for SoS is understanding the ownership of, and making reliable estimates of risk (Fovino & Masera, 2007). High levels of connectivity, and the potential for emergent behavior due to the interactions of separately owned/operated constituent systems, means that significant risks may go unacknowledged and their mitigations unplanned.  
Please make sure all references are listed alphabetically and are formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed). See the [http://www.bkcase.org/fileadmin/bkcase/files/Wiki_Files__for_linking_/BKCASE_Reference_Guidance.pdf BKCASE Reference Guidance] for additional information.
 
  
===Citations===
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In general, governance can be summed up by asking three connected questions (Siemieniuch and Sinclair, 2014):
List all references cited in the article.  Note:  SEBoK 0.5 uses Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed). See the [http://www.bkcase.org/fileadmin/bkcase/files/Wiki_Files__for_linking_/BKCASE_Reference_Guidance.pdf BKCASE Reference Guidance] for additional information.
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* Are we doing the right things (leadership)?
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* Are we doing those things right (management)?
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* How do we know this (metrics and measurements)?
  
Bruesburg A. and Fletcher G. 2008. The Human View Handbook – Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd.  
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Currently, there is no accepted framework for addressing these questions in a SoS context, but Henshaw et. al. (2013) highlighted architectures as an important means through which governance may be clarified.  They postulate that a SoS can be regarded as a set of trust and contract relationships between systems (i.e. including both informal and formal relationships). The systems architect of a constituent system must, therefore, address trust issues for each participating organization in the overall enterprise with which his/her system must interoperate.  For SoS, technical engineering governance is concerned with defining and ensuring compliance with trust at the interface between constituent systems.  An example of difficulty managing the interfaces in a SoS is provided in the [[How Lack of Information Sharing Jeopardized the NASA/ESA Cassini/Huygens Mission to Saturn|Cassini-Huygens mission case study]] .
  
+++ Castka P B. 2001. Factors affecting the successful implementation of high performance teams. Team Performance Management , 7 (7/8), 123-134.  
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==Situational Awareness==
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Situational awareness is a decision maker’s understanding of the environment in which he/she takes a decision; it concerns information, awareness, perception, and cognition. Endsley (1995) emphasizes that situational awareness is a state of knowledge. There are numerous examples of SoS failure due to the operator of one constituent system making decisions based on inadequate knowledge of the overall SoS (big picture).  
  
+++ Curtis B, Hefley W E, and Miller S A. 2001. People Capability Maturity Model (P-CMM). Software Engineering Inst. Carnegie Mellon University.
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On the other hand, SoS development is also viewed as the means through which improved situational awareness may be achieved (Van der Laar, et. al., 2013). In the defense environment, Network Enabled Capability (NEC) was a system of systems approach motivated by the objective of making better use of information sharing to achieve military objectives.  NEC was predicated on the ability to share useful information effectively among the stakeholders that need it.  It is concluded that improving situational awareness will improve SoS performance, or at least reduce the risk of failures at the SoS level. Thus, the principles which govern the organization of the SoS should support sharing information effectively across the network; in essence, ensuring that every level of the {{Term|Interoperability (glossary)|interoperability spectrum}} is adequately serviced. Operators need insight into the effect that their own local decisions may have on the changing SoS or environment; similarly they need to understand how external changes will affect the systems that they own.
  
+++ Conklin Jeff. 2005. Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems. Wiley. 1st ed. ISBN 978-0470017685
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Increasingly, SoS include constituent systems with high levels of autonomous decision making ability, a class of system that can be described as cyber-physical systems (of systems). The relationship to SoS is described by Henshaw (2016). Issues arise because autonomy can degrade human situational awareness regarding the behavior of the SoS, and also the autonomous systems within the SoS have inadequate situational awareness due to a lack of competent models of humans (Sowe, 2016)
  
+++ Hubbard E-M, Siemieniuch C E, Sinclair M A, Hodgson A. 2010. Working towards a holisticorganisational systems model. 5th Int. Conf. Systems of Systems Engineering (SoSE), Loughborough, UK. 22-24 June.
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==References==
 
 
IFIP-IFAC Task Force. 1999. The Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology, V1.6.3. http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~bernus/taskforce/geram/versions/geram1-6-3/v1.6.3.html.
 
  
ISO 14258:1998. Industrial automation systems -- Concepts and rules for enterprise models. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization;
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===Works Cited===
  
ISO 19439:2006. Enterprise integration -- Framework for enterprise modelling. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.  
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Ackoff, R.L.(1971)  “Towards a Systems of Systems Concepts,” ''Manage. Sci.'', vol. 17, no. 11, pp. 661–671.
  
ISO 19440:2007. Enterprise integration -- Constructs for enterprise modelling. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.
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Baxter, G. and I. Sommerville, (2011) “Socio-technical systems: From design methods to systems engineering,” Interact. Comput., vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 4–17.
  
Miller Frederic - P, Vandome Agnes F, and McBrewster John. 2009. Enterprise Modelling. VDM Publishing House Ltd., ISBN 6130253370, 9786130253370
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Dahmann, J. S. & Baldwin, K. J. (2008) Understanding the Current State of US Defense Systems of Systems and the Implications for Systems Engineering, 2nd Annual IEEE Systems Conference, 1–7. http://doi.org/10.1109/SYSTEMS.2008.4518994
  
+++ Rittel Horst W J, and Webber Melvin M. 1973. Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. pp. Policy Sciences, Vol. 4, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Inc., Amsterdam,155–169. (Reprinted in Cross N. (ed.). 1984. Developments in Design Methodology, J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, pp. 135–144)
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Dahmann, J.S. (2015) “Systems of Systems Characterization and Types,in Systems of Systems Engineering for NATO Defence Applications (STO-EN-SCI-276), pp. 1–14.]
  
+++ Tannenbaum S I, Salas E, and Cannon-Bowers J A. 1996. Promoting Team Effectiveness. In M. A. West, Handbook of Work Group Psychology. Chichester: Wiley.
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Endsley, M. R. (1995) Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness in Dynamic Systems, J. Human Factors and Ergonomics Soc., 37(1), 32–64. http://doi.org/10.1518/001872095779049543
  
+++ Vernadat F B. 1996. Enterprise Modeling and Integration Principles and Applications. Chapman and Hall Publishers.
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Fovino, I. N., & Masera, M. (2007) Emergent disservices in interdependent systems and system-of-systems, in Proc. IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, Vol. 1, pp. 590–595. http://doi.org/10.1109/ICSMC.2006.384449
  
===Primary References===
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Henshaw, M. J. de C., Siemieniuch, C. E., & Sinclair, M. A. (2013) Technical and Engineering Governance in the Context of Systems of Systems, in NATO SCI Symp. Architecture Assessment for NEC (pp. 1–10). Tallinn, Es. NATO STO.
All primary references should be listed in alphabetical order. Remember to identify primary references by creating an internal link using the ‘’’reference title only’’’ ([[title]]). Please do not include version numbers in the links.
 
  
Checkland P B. 1981. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. Wiley.
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Henshaw, M. (2014) A Socio-Technical Perspective on SoSE, in Lecture Series in Systems of Systems Engineering for NATO Defence Applications (SCI-276). NATO CSO.
*Introduced the Soft Systems Methodology which challenged conventional ideas to address messy problems of socio-technical systems.
 
  
Hubbard E-M, Siemieniuch C E, Sinclair M A, Hodgson A. 2010. Working towards a holisticorganisational systems model. 5th Int. Conf. Systems of Systems Engineering (SoSE), Loughborough, UK. 22-24 June.
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Henshaw, M. (2016). Systems of Systems, Cyber-Physical Systems, The Internet-of-Things…Whatever Next? INSIGHT, 19(3), pp.51–54.
*This paper presents an integration effort combining a number of soft factors modelling tools and considers the potential impact of such an overall tool in a system of systems environment. The paper introduces the tools developed and how it is envisaged they will work together to provide a comprehensive, coherent output. It is suggested that a suite of interoperable tools of this form could aid the design and operation of organisational systems and ensure they are fit for purpose.
 
  
Rittel Horst W J, and Webber Melvin M. 1973. Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. pp. Policy Sciences, Vol. 4, Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, Inc., Amsterdam,155–169.  (Reprinted in Cross N. (ed.). 1984. Developments in Design Methodology, J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, pp. 135–144)
+
Klein, L. (2014) What do we actually mean by ‘sociotechnical’? On values, boundaries and the problems of language, Appl. Ergon., vol. 45, no. 2 PA, pp. 137–142.
*Horst Rittel and Melvin M. Webber formally described the concept of wicked problems in a 1973 treatise, contrasting "wicked" problems with relatively "tame," soluble problems in mathematics, chess, or puzzle solving ie the origin of the term ‘wicked problem
 
  
===Additional References===
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Kurtz, C.F. and D. J. Snowden (2003) “The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-making in a Complex-Complicated World,” IBM Syst. J., vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 462–483.
All additional references should be listed in alphabetical order.
 
  
Bruesburg A. and Fletcher G. 2008. The Human View Handbook – Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd.  
+
Maguire, M. (2014) Socio-technical systems and interaction design - 21st century relevance, Appl. Ergon., vol. 45, no. 2 PA, pp. 162–170.[http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a468785.pdf :/mil/]
  
Castka P B. 2001. Factors affecting the successful implementation of high performance teams. Team Performance Management , 7 (7/8), 123-134.  
+
Rebovich, G. (2009) “Enterprise systems of Systems,” in Systems of Systems Engineering - Principles and Applications, M. Jamshidi, Ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press, pp. 165–191.
  
Curtis B, Hefley W E, and Miller S A. 2001. People Capability Maturity Model (P-CMM). Software Engineering Inst. Carnegie Mellon University.
+
Sauser, B., Boardman, J., & Gorod, A. (2009) System of Systems Management, in System of Systems Engineering: Innovations for the 21st Century, M. Jamshidi (Ed.), (pp. 191–217) Wiley.
  
Conklin Jeff. 2005. Dialogue Mapping: Building Shared Understanding of Wicked Problems. Wiley. 1st ed. ISBN 978-0470017685
+
Siemieniuch, C.E. & Sinclair, M.A. (2014) Extending systems ergonomics thinking to accommodate the socio-technical issues of Systems of Systems, Appl. Ergon., V 45, Issue 1, Pages 85-98
  
IFIP-IFAC Task Force. 1999. The Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology, V1.6.3. http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~bernus/taskforce/geram/versions/geram1-6-3/v1.6.3.html.
+
Sowe, S.K. et al. (2016) Cyber-Physical-Human Systems - putting people in the loop. IT Professional, 18(February), pp.10–13.]
  
ISO 14258:1998. Industrial automation systems -- Concepts and rules for enterprise models. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization;
+
Van der Laar, P., Tretmans, J., & Borth, M. (2013) Situational Awareness with Systems of Systems. Springer.
  
ISO 19439:2006. Enterprise integration -- Framework for enterprise modelling. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.  
+
===Primary References===
 +
Checkland, P.B. 1981. [[Systems Thinking, Systems Practice]]. Chichester, West Sussex, England, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.  
  
ISO 19440:2007. Enterprise integration -- Constructs for enterprise modelling. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.
+
===Additional References===
 +
Bruesburg, A., and  G. Fletcher. 2009. ''The Human View Handbook for MODAF'', draft version 2, second issue. Bristol, England, UK: Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd. Available: http://www.hfidtc.com/research/process/reports/phase-2/hv-handbook-issue2-draft.pdf.
  
Miller Frederic - P, Vandome Agnes F, and McBrewster John. 2009. Enterprise Modelling. VDM Publishing House Ltd., ISBN 6130253370, 9786130253370
+
IFIP-IFAC Task Force. 1999. "The Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology," V1.6.3. Available: http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~bernus/taskforce/geram/versions/geram1-6-3/v1.6.3.html.
  
Tannenbaum S I, Salas E, and Cannon-Bowers J A. 1996. Promoting Team Effectiveness. In M. A. West, Handbook of Work Group Psychology. Chichester: Wiley.
+
ISO. 1998. ISO 14258:1998, ''Industrial automation systems — Concepts and rules for enterprise models.'' Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.
  
Vernadat F B. 1996. Enterprise Modeling and Integration Principles and Applications. Chapman and Hall Publishers.
+
ISO. 2006. ISO 19439:2006, ''Enterprise integration — Framework for enterprise modelling.'' Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.  
  
 +
ISO. 2007. ISO 19440:2007, ''Enterprise integration — Constructs for enterprise modelling.'' Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.
  
 +
Miller, F.P., A.F. Vandome, and J. McBrewster. 2009. ''Enterprise Modelling.'' Mauritius: Alphascript Publishing, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller GmbH & Co. KG.
 
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====Article Discussion====
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==Signatures==
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[[Category:Part 4]]
[[Category:Part 4]][[Category:Topic]]
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[[Category:Topic]]
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[[Category:Systems of Systems (SoS)]]

Latest revision as of 03:58, 14 October 2020


Lead Authors: Judith Dawson, Mike Henshaw, Bud Lawson, Contributing Authors: Heidi Davidz, Alan Faisandier


In perhaps the earliest reference to Systems of Systems (SoS), Ackoff (1971) describes a concept that is mostly concerned with organizations, i.e. social. However, this section is concerned with the socio-technical aspects of technical SoS, which are composed of interdependent resources, such as, people, processes, information, and technology that interact with each other and with their environment in support of a common mission (glossary).

The Socio-Technical Nature of Systems of Systems

Rebovich (2009) [ has captured the essence of the SoS problem as:

“From a single-system community’s perspective, its part of the SoS capability represents additional obligations, constraints and complexities. Rarely is participation in an (sic) SoS seen as a net gain from the viewpoint of single-system stakeholders.”

Three of the persistent SoS challenges, or pain points, identified by Dahmann (2015) are directly related to this problem of stakeholder perspective and the local optimization of constituent system performance at the expense, or to the detriment of, the overall SoS performance. These are: SoS Authority, Leadership, and Autonomy, Interdependencies & Emergence. Thus, the sociological aspects affecting decision making and human behaviors must be given similar weight to the technical aspects of SoS.

Turning to views outside of Systems Engineering, Ergonomists regard socio-technical systems as having the following characteristics (Maguire, 2014):

  • There are collective operational tasks,
  • They contain social and technical sub-systems,
  • They are open systems (i.e. strongly interacting with their environments), and
  • The concept of the system being an unfinished system.

These are also characteristics of Systems of Systems. Klein (2014) has noted that approaches to socio-technical systems can take the two perspectives of “system affects people” or “people affect system”, depending upon how the system boundary is drawn. It is generally true for systems that consideration of their context requires socio-technical aspects to be taken into account.

Although focused largely on IT systems, Baxter and Sommerville (2011) have noted that the introduction of new business SoS are generally carried out in conjunction with a change process. They argue that frequently the social and organizational aspects are disruptive and that inadequate attention is paid to the connection between change processes and systems development processes. They propose two types of Socio-Technical Systems Engineering activities:

  • Sensitizing and awareness activities, designed to sensitize stakeholders to the concerns of other stakeholders.
  • Constructive engagement activities, which are largely concerned with deriving requirements accurately and meaningfully.

The extent to which these activities can be effective may be challenged by independent management or operation of constituent systems in a SoS.

Although there are many matters concerning the socio-technical aspects of SoS, there are two important issues, that are dealt with her. The first is the need for appropriate governance structures, given that operational and/or managerial independence affects top-down direction of the SoS and may compromise achievement of the SoS goal(s). The second issue is a lack of situational awareness of managers, operators, or other stakeholders of the SoS, so that they may not understand the impact of their local decisions on the wider SoS.

SoS Governance

Generally, design and operation of complex systems is concerned with control, but the classification of SoS (Dahmann, et. al., 2008) is based on the notion of diminishing central control, as the types go from directed to virtual. Sauser, et. al. (2009) has described the ‘control paradox of SoS’ and asserted that for SoS, ‘management’ is replaced by ‘governance’. ‘Control is a function of rules, time, and bandwidth; whereas command is a function of trusts, influence, fidelity, and agility’.

Some practitioners have found the Cynefin framework, developed by David Snowden, helpful in understanding the nature of complexity that may arise in SoS. Developed from knowledge management considerations, Kurtz and Snowden (2003) propose three reasons why the behavior of systems involving people may be difficult to predict. Firstly, humans are not limited to one identity, and so modelling human behaviors using norms may not be reliable. Secondly, humans are not limited to acting in accordance with predetermined rules. Thirdly, humans are not limited to acting on local patterns. These reasons all undermine control, so that the sociological aspects of SoS make their behaviours hard to predict and, possibly indeterminate.  The Cynefin framework considers systems to be classified in four domains:

  • Known – simple systems with predictable and repeatable cause and effect
  • Knowable – amenable to systems thinking and analytical/reductionist methods
  • Complex – adaptive systems where cause and effect are only discernable in retrospect and do not repeat
  • Chaotic – no cause and effect relationships are perceivable

The different types of SoS (directed, acknowledged, collaborative, and virtual) could all be described in any of the above domains, depending on many factors internal to the SoS, but in all cases it is the sociological element of the socio-technical SoS that is most likely to give rise to ambiguity in predicting behavior.

A major governance issue for SoS is understanding the ownership of, and making reliable estimates of risk (Fovino & Masera, 2007). High levels of connectivity, and the potential for emergent behavior due to the interactions of separately owned/operated constituent systems, means that significant risks may go unacknowledged and their mitigations unplanned.

In general, governance can be summed up by asking three connected questions (Siemieniuch and Sinclair, 2014):

  • Are we doing the right things (leadership)?
  • Are we doing those things right (management)?
  • How do we know this (metrics and measurements)?

Currently, there is no accepted framework for addressing these questions in a SoS context, but Henshaw et. al. (2013) highlighted architectures as an important means through which governance may be clarified. They postulate that a SoS can be regarded as a set of trust and contract relationships between systems (i.e. including both informal and formal relationships). The systems architect of a constituent system must, therefore, address trust issues for each participating organization in the overall enterprise with which his/her system must interoperate. For SoS, technical engineering governance is concerned with defining and ensuring compliance with trust at the interface between constituent systems. An example of difficulty managing the interfaces in a SoS is provided in the Cassini-Huygens mission case study .

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is a decision maker’s understanding of the environment in which he/she takes a decision; it concerns information, awareness, perception, and cognition. Endsley (1995) emphasizes that situational awareness is a state of knowledge. There are numerous examples of SoS failure due to the operator of one constituent system making decisions based on inadequate knowledge of the overall SoS (big picture).

On the other hand, SoS development is also viewed as the means through which improved situational awareness may be achieved (Van der Laar, et. al., 2013). In the defense environment, Network Enabled Capability (NEC) was a system of systems approach motivated by the objective of making better use of information sharing to achieve military objectives. NEC was predicated on the ability to share useful information effectively among the stakeholders that need it. It is concluded that improving situational awareness will improve SoS performance, or at least reduce the risk of failures at the SoS level. Thus, the principles which govern the organization of the SoS should support sharing information effectively across the network; in essence, ensuring that every level of the interoperability spectruminteroperability spectrum is adequately serviced. Operators need insight into the effect that their own local decisions may have on the changing SoS or environment; similarly they need to understand how external changes will affect the systems that they own.

Increasingly, SoS include constituent systems with high levels of autonomous decision making ability, a class of system that can be described as cyber-physical systems (of systems). The relationship to SoS is described by Henshaw (2016). Issues arise because autonomy can degrade human situational awareness regarding the behavior of the SoS, and also the autonomous systems within the SoS have inadequate situational awareness due to a lack of competent models of humans (Sowe, 2016)

References

Works Cited

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Henshaw, M. (2014) A Socio-Technical Perspective on SoSE, in Lecture Series in Systems of Systems Engineering for NATO Defence Applications (SCI-276). NATO CSO.

Henshaw, M. (2016). Systems of Systems, Cyber-Physical Systems, The Internet-of-Things…Whatever Next? INSIGHT, 19(3), pp.51–54.

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Primary References

Checkland, P.B. 1981. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. Chichester, West Sussex, England, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Additional References

Bruesburg, A., and G. Fletcher. 2009. The Human View Handbook for MODAF, draft version 2, second issue. Bristol, England, UK: Systems Engineering & Assessment Ltd. Available: http://www.hfidtc.com/research/process/reports/phase-2/hv-handbook-issue2-draft.pdf.

IFIP-IFAC Task Force. 1999. "The Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology," V1.6.3. Available: http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~bernus/taskforce/geram/versions/geram1-6-3/v1.6.3.html.

ISO. 1998. ISO 14258:1998, Industrial automation systems — Concepts and rules for enterprise models. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.

ISO. 2006. ISO 19439:2006, Enterprise integration — Framework for enterprise modelling. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.

ISO. 2007. ISO 19440:2007, Enterprise integration — Constructs for enterprise modelling. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.

Miller, F.P., A.F. Vandome, and J. McBrewster. 2009. Enterprise Modelling. Mauritius: Alphascript Publishing, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller GmbH & Co. KG.


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