Cynefin Sensemaking Framework for Decision Support in Design and Development of Large Scale Complex Engineered Systems


The design and the development of Large-Scale Complex Engineered Systems (LSCES) requires the interactions and involvement of multiple teams and numerous levels of the organization. Traditionally, requirements-driven systems engineering approaches are used to capture the preferences of the stakeholders for LSCES. For LSCES, the requirements driven approach often leads to overrun in cost and time, which in turn leads to requirement creep during the development phase. Hence, the LSCES require rigorous approaches, such as value-based approaches, Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO), Decision Analysis (DA) during the design and development phase to control the creep. Before these rigorous approaches can be used on the LSCES, a solid foundation of Systems Engineering (SE) is required. The decision maker should make sense of the system by understanding the requirements creep and how it affects the system. The requirements are often ever changing and are subjected to uncertainty within multiple organizational levels and as well as with demands of stakeholders. In this paper, the authors analyze the uncertainty in requirements and the creep that may occur at various levels of an organization and map it to a sensemaking framework, the Cynefin framework to determine the different rigorous methods that can be used during the design and development of the system. A sample organizational structure is used to illustrate the effects of requirements creep and Cynefin dynamics. Two types of system, a simple system and a complex system are used to demonstrate the state and movement of the system in the Cynefin framework.

Meeting Name

2017 International Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Management, ASEM 2017 (2017: Oct. 18-21, Huntsville, AL)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Complex systems; Sensemaking; Systems Engineering

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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