Complexity theory as a model for the delivery of high value IT solutions

Wehmeyer, Baden (2007-03)

Abstract

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Many variations of Systems Development Life Cycle models have evolved over the last fifty years of systems engineering and software science, yet not enough knowledge is available to better understand these as Complex Adaptive Systems by studying chaos and complexity theories. The primary application domain of the thesis is focused on the development of electronic hardware and software products. There is a great need for innovation to reach all corners of the development ecosystem; however a large cognitive distance exists between the concept of systematic product development and that of value creation. Instruments are needed to aid process agility, for defusing imminent problems as they mount, and for making effective decisions to sustain maximum productivity. Many of these objectives are neglected in systems development practices. As with so many management fads, it appears that no single one of these models lived up to all of the expectations and in many cases ended up being recipes for disaster. The statistics available on failed projects are concerning but has not stopped the scientific and engineering communities from trying over, and over again, to make progress. The goal of the thesis is therefore to identify the most viable model that supports the sustainability of systems development team performance. The research draws insights from extant literature, by applying a knowledge management theory based analysis on the various models with specific attention given to complexity theory. The dominant metric discovered is to measure the Value Velocity of a Systems Development Team. This metric is determined by two independent variables, being Value Created and Delivery Delay. Complex Adaptive Systems simply requires a guiding vision and a carefully selected set of generative rules for increasing and sustaining the Value Velocity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Menige variasies van stelselsontwikkelingsmodelle het ontwikkel oor die afgelope vyftig jaar in stelselsingenieurswese en sagtewarewetenskap, en steeds is daar nie genoegsame kennis beskikbaar om beter begrip te kry oor hoe hierdie stelsels as Komplekse Aanpassende Sisteme bestudeer kan word nie, ten einde die bestuur daarvan te verbeter. Die primêre toepassingsgebied in die tesis is gespits op die ontwikkeling van rekenaarhardeware en - sagteware. Die behoefte vir innovasie moet al die fasette van die ontwikkelingsekosisteem bereik. Die bewusheidsgaping tussen sistemiese produkontwikkeling en waardeskepping, is te wyd. Instumentasie word benodig om te help met ratsheid in prosesuitvoering, om dreigende probleme te ontlont, en effektief besluitneming toe te pas, en sodoende produktiwiteit op ‘n maksimum vlak te hou. Hierdie doelwitte word tot ’n meerdere mate in die huidige praktyk verontagsaam. Net soos somige bestuursadvies oneffektief is, blyk dit dat daar nog steeds geen stelselsmodelle is wat alle verwagtinge bevredig nie. In baie gevalle eindig die toepassing daarvan in waan en mislukking. Die statistiek beskikbaar op mislukte projekte is onrusbarend, tog het dit nie vooruitgang gekelder nie, en die behoefte na verbetering bestaan steeds. Die doelwit van die tesis is dus om die mees lewensvatbare model wat die voortbestaan van stelselsontwikkelingsgroepe sal kan handhaaf, uit te sonder. Die navorsing neem insigte uit hedendagse literatuur en is gebasseer op ’n analiese van verskeide kennisbestuursteorieё teenoor die bestaande stelselsontwikkelingsmodelle. Die fokus is meer spesifiek toegespits op kompleksiteitsteorie. Die hoofmaatstaaf is om die Waardesnelheid van ’n stelselsontwikkelingspan te bepaal. Hierdie maatstaaf word gepyl deur twee onafhanklike veranderlikes, naamlik die Waarde Geskep en die Afleweringsvertraging. Ten slotte, vereis Kompleks Aanpassende Sisteme slegs die aanwesigheid van 'n leidende visie tesame met 'n goeddeurdagte stel ontwikkelingsreëls, wat aanleiding sal gee tot die verhoging en behoud van die Waardesnelheid.

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/19891
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