Cite as:

Yaneer Bar-Yam, When systems engineering fails — Toward complex systems engineering, in International Conference on Systems, Man & Cybernetics 2003, Vol. 2 (IEEE Press, Piscataway, NJ, 2003), pp. 2021- 2028.


We review the lessons learned from problems with systems engineering over the past couple of decades and suggest that there are two effective strategies for overcoming them: (1) restricting the conventional systems engineering process to not-too-complex projects, and (2) adopting an evolutionary paradigm for complex systems engineering that involves rapid parallel exploration and a context designed to promote change through competition between design/implementation groups with field testing of multiple variants. The second approach is an extension of many of the increasingly popular variants of systems engineering today.