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Applying holistic thinking to improving your sex life

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Optimizing complex systems represents a challenge. Traditional approaches to complex systems development either ignore the issue or optimize subsystems. Some approaches might even iterate through a number of architectures to identify the best one. This paper investigates an alternative approach, namely architecting the complex system to optimize the interactions between the subsystems at design time. The paper uses the interactions in the sex life of males and females (the system) as a case study and shows that better (more pleasurable) results can be achieved by optimizing the system for the interaction at the interface than for the individual (subsystem) experience. The paper then provides diverse examples where systems were or could have been optimized for interactions if seen from the holistic perspective. These instances include weapons systems, logistics systems, the Apollo program, the human cardiovascular system, an online classroom, the INCOSE Australia chapter and a library. The paper concludes with recommendations for further research

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Applying holistic thinking to improving your sex life

  1. 1. The Sixth National Conference INCOSE_IL 2011 • ‫חשיבה מערכתית ומידול מערכתי‬ • Applying holistic thinking to improving your sex life • Dr Joseph Kasser • National University of Singapore1 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  2. 2. Topics• Systems approach to solving problems• The common vision of the solution – CONOPS• Aggregating functions• Complexity and its reduction• Optimizing your sex life• Optimizing systems for interactions• Examples• Generic model2 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  3. 3. Systems approach to problem formulation Observe Research Formulate hypothesis Test hypothesis Refuted Supported3 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  4. 4. Systems approach to CONOPS formulation Research Formulate CONOPS (9) CONOPS No Complete? Yes4 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  5. 5. Example: CONOPS of a system A B C D E F G H5 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  6. 6. N2 chart representation A B C D E F G A B inputs – vertical squares C D E F G outputs – horizontal squares6 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  7. 7. N2 chart representation A B C inputs – vertical squares D E F G H outputs – horizontal squares7 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  8. 8. N2 chart representation Output A o o o o o B o o o o o C o o o o o o D o o o o E o o Input o o o F o o o o o o G o o o o o H8 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  9. 9. N2 chart representation A o o o o o B o o o o o C o o o o o o D o o o o E o o o o o F o o o o o o G o o o o o H9 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  10. 10. Aggregated (synthesized) subsystems Subsystems within subsystem A A o o o BCD o o BCD EFG o o EFG o o H H 10 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  11. 11. Alternative subsystem grouping-1 A o o o o o B o o o o o C o o o o o o D o o o o E o o o o o F o o o o o o G o o o o o H11 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  12. 12. Alternative subsystem grouping-2 A o o o o o B o o o o o C o o o o o o D o o o o E o o o o o F o o o o o o G o o o o o H12 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  13. 13. Alternative subsystem grouping-3 A o o o o o B o o o o o C o o o o o o D o o o o E o o o o o F o o o o o o G o o o o o H13 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  14. 14. Alternative subsystem grouping-4 A o o o o o B o o o o o C o o o o o o D o o o o E o o o o o F o o o o o o G o o o o o H14 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  15. 15. Alternative subsystem grouping-5 A o o o o o B o o o o o C o o o o o o D o o o o E o o o o o F o o o o o o G o o o o o H15 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  16. 16. Which aggregation option to choose?• How to make choice?• Literature suggests – Minimum coupling – Maximum cohesion16 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  17. 17. Types of coupling-1• Content coupling (high): one module modifies or relies on the internal workings of another module – e.g. accessing local data of another module• Common coupling: two modules share the same global data – e.g. a global variable• External coupling: two modules share an externally imposed data format, communication protocol, or device interface.• Control coupling : one module controls the logic of another, by passing it information on what to do – e.g. passing a what-to-do flag17 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  18. 18. Types of coupling-2• Stamp coupling (Data-structured coupling): modules share a composite data structure and use only a part of it, possibly a different part – e.g. passing a whole record to a function which only needs one field• Data coupling: modules share data through, for example, parameters.• Message coupling (low) : Modules are not dependent on each other, instead they use a public interface to exchange parameter-less messages.• No coupling: modules do not communicate at all with one another.18 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  19. 19. Types of cohesion* *Ian Sommervile 1998• 1. Coincidental: elements have no relationship• 2. Logical: elements performing similar functions• 3. Temporal: elements that are activated at a single time• 4. Procedural: elements make up a single control sequence.• 5. Communicational: elements that operate on the same input data or produce the same output data.• 6. Sequential: The output from one element in the component serves as input for some other element.• 7. Functional: Each element is necessary for the execution of a single higher level function.19 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  20. 20. Factors for Complexity* • A large number of members or subsystems – size, scale • Strong interactions between the subsystems • Combination of the above * Allison, 200420 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  21. 21. Reducing complexity• Weaken interactions between subsystems – Minimize coupling• Use a small number of subsystems at any level in the hierarchy – Maximize cohesion• Configure subsystems for the maximum degree of homeostasis21 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  22. 22. Approaches to the optimization problem• Subsystem-centric approaches – (min) coupling and (max) cohesion• System-centric approach – Maximum functional cohesion – Message coupling desirable – Small number of subsystems – Homeostatic subsystems • At HKMF Layer 2+22 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  23. 23. Systems vs. Holistic• Systems engineering – An activity that deals with parts and their interactions as a whole (Kasser and Hitchins, 2009)• Systems approach – An approach to problem solving that views any problem as a part of a bigger system, and in developing a solution, sees that solution being achieved through the interaction of system elements*, such that the properties of the whole are beyond the properties of the individual parts (Halligan, 2010).• Holistic approach – an approach that optimises the system for the interactions between the subsystems* at design time, rather than an approach that optimizes the subsystems after the subsystem boundaries have been determined. *Bold text by this author.23 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  24. 24. Improving your sex life• System (of systems?) problem• Definition of problem - issues• Subsystem optimization – Male experience – Female experience• System optimization – Mutual experience• Quality or quantity? – Define ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’24 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  25. 25. System optimization alternatives• Optimize subsystem – (male) experience• Optimize system – (mutual) experience – Approach chosen25 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  26. 26. Research issue• Standard Type V holistic thinking approach• Research the issues• Generic thinking – Literature review of domain – Access lessons learned by others • Neglected but critical step in current process• Gain an understanding of the situation – Do some prototyping• Interface issues• Cause and effect – Time delays• Feedback – Negative and positive26 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  27. 27. The system • Environment • Interactions via multiple interfaces • Mental – Verbal – Behavioral • Consideration • Respect • Physical – Tactile • Other27 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  28. 28. Results Bragging again28 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  29. 29. Complex system optimization problem• How do you optimize a complex system?• Subsystem – less than optimal• Interactions – We do so, but sometimes don’t think of it in that way – Needs further research29 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  30. 30. Examples• Weapons systems• The Royal Air Force (RAF) Battle of Britain Air Defence System (RAFBADS)• Logistics systems• The Apollo Program• The MIR space station• The human cardiovascular system• A distance learning classroom• The Library• Forming the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) Australia chapter30 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  31. 31. Generic model• The N2 chart is only a start• The number of subsystems is small, if the interface between the major subsystems is complicated enough it can be considered as a subsystem – This facilitates understanding of the system• The cohesion of each subsystem is maximized – The subsystems are designed for homeostasis• The coupling is minimized• The system is optimized for interaction at the interfaces – Interaction is interface dependent• Requires thinking, tools do not yet exist31 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  32. 32. Summary• Systems approach to solving problems• The common vision of the solution – CONOPS• Aggregating functions• Complexity and its reduction• Optimizing your sex life• Optimizing systems for interactions• Examples• Generic model32 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21
  33. 33. Questions and comments33 March 2011 Applying holistic thinking / 1.21

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