01 April 2010

Reducing Complexity, DARPA-style!

Graham Warwick has a great post over at Aviation Week's Ares blog, talking about the impact of complexity on weapon system development projects. The post looks at the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in particular, and the way the DoD does systems engineering in general.

It turns out DARPA did a study of the relationship between complexity and project duration, and launched a program called META which is designed "to make a dramatic improvement on the existing systems engineering, integration, and testing process for defense systems." And by "dramatic" they mean reducing timelines by 5X.

As for me, I'm pretty excited to see someone is paying attention to the impact of complexity on system development efforts, and specifically to the relationship between complexity and project duration. One of the central tenants of FIST is that we can't simply reduce one aspect of a project (say, timelines) without simultaneously reducing the other aspects (cost, complexity, team size, etc). In other words, FIST isn't four ideas, it's one.

That means not only do I reject the "faster, better, cheaper - pick two" concept, but I think the only way to improve in two dimension is to also improve the third.

No comments: