This thesis investigates the nature of systems problems and the need for an open viewpoint to explain a system by viewing it as part of a larger whole and explaining its role in terms of that larger whole. The problem this research investigates is wicked and hence is unique in each instance. Therefore, an empirical proof would only hold for that particular instantiation of the problem, not the problem as a whole. After exposing some of the limitations of traditional systems engineering to this type of problem it is clear that a new approach is needed. The approach taken in the thesis is model driven and it is the architecture of this approach that is the stable artefact rather than the artefacts of a particular solution. The approach developed in this research has been demonstrated to be practicable.
Specifically, this research has developed and demonstrated a novel approach for a decision support system that can be used to analyse a system of systems as part of a larger whole from both open and closed viewpoints in order to support the decision of which systems to use to conduct a particular military mission. Such planning decisions are wicked due to the uncertain and unique nature of military missions. Critical rationalism was used to validate the model driven approach and to falsify a parametric approach representative of traditional systems engineering through historical case studies. The main issue found with the parametric approach was the entanglement of functionality with the individual systems selected to implement the system of systems. The advantage of the model driven approach is that it separates functionality from implementation and uses model transformation for systems specification.
Thus, although wicked problems do not have an exhaustively describable set of potential solutions this thesis has shown that they are not unapproachable.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.