A sociotechnical systems approach to the design of underspecified future systems: A case study of a military submarine.
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In the design of future technological systems, techno-centred engineering approaches often guide the design process while the ‘social’ system is underrepresented. STS methods can address this shortfall, by considering the technical and social system components to allow for joint optimisation. STS methods are most often employed to inform well-defined technology-led change. As such, there is a need to extend STS thinking to the development and design process for future work systems. We describe an STS design approach, developed to inform system specification and design decisions during the early phases of the design of a military submarine. This approach follows three phases. The first was to build a system understanding. The second was to analyse the future system, and the third was to evolve the future system. The approach was designed to be applied iteratively such that each application could inform a greater degree of system specification. Application of this approach allowed for the specification of a viable future system crewing approach which has since been adopted and progressed by the future system design team to inform further system development.
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