An Approach for Exploring Non-technical Complexity in Engineering Design Processes

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Engineering practitioners consider non-technical complexity, related to systems under design, to be uneasy to address, due to perceiving it to be outside their expertise. Tackling non-technical complexity requires practitioners to see connections between the complexity and themselves, then be motivated enough to act. Motivation, however, is challenging because complexities must be sufficiently articulated and the practitioners should feel confident to address them. We propose an approach, called 3U, to support engineering practitioners to better perceive and express non-technical complexity problems, reduce cognitive constraints and begin initial solution ideation to become stimulated to address the problems. The approach consists of complexity mapping, relay ideation and bio-inspired analogy creation. We preliminarily evaluate the approach through a workshop and interviews. Workshop participants found the approach particularly valuable in the early period of projects but identified the complicatedness of using bio-inspired analogies. We consider our approach can contribute to enhancing multidisciplinary team collaboration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComplex Systems Design & Management (CSD&M)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Dec 2022
Event13th Complex Systems Design & Management, CSDM 2022  - Paris, France
Duration: 15 Dec 202216 Dec 2022
Conference number: 13


Conference13th Complex Systems Design & Management, CSDM 2022 
Abbreviated titleCSDM 2022
Internet address


  • Systems Engineering
  • Complexity
  • Bio-inspiration
  • Multidisciplinary design projects


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