The ability to model the real world is of particular interest to us at Red Design. We learned our trade designing complex systems that were hard, if not impossible, to assess while in development. Over the years the ability to model systems as the design evolves has become increasingly useful. Today it is common practice to use functional models, virtual physical 3D models, simulation models and even scaled physical models (or mock-ups) to confirm that the project is on the right track.
One of the next challenges that has so far eluded us is an adequate model of the engineering process, itself. Although we use all these fancy technologies to analyze the end product, we still use an engineering process that has its roots in the industrial age. Although “process modeling” exists as a field of study, we have yet to be able to apply it with much success.
Based on our research and a short course at MIT we think the study of Systems Dynamics holds promise. Though there seems to be a lot of jargon that needs to be decoded, the attraction is a focus on mapping the dynamics of a system over time. We can lay out a rational flow chart of how a project or process will proceed, but it’s a static view. Complex processes over an extended period of time with numerous contributors develop a life of their own that is difficult to understand. Systems Dynamics seems to have the capability to forecast the flows and loops that dictate behavior and might allow us to optimize the process to increase efficiency and reduce risk.
It all sounds very dry and nerdish, but Systems Dynamics might provide some much needed insight into the way the world around us works. We’ll see…