A study by Dassault  noted that around 40 different specialisms are involved in the development of a complex system such as a car or an aircraft. Specialists in different disciplines have different cultures, express themselves in different ways and have specialised vocabularies that are rarely understood by outsiders. Several distinct languages can be involved:
All of this underlines just how complicated communication can potentially be.
There is no value in trying to force a stakeholder group to adopt an unfamiliar language. On the other hand, if communication is informal, misinterpretations will inevitably arise. Information must be appropriately presented, structured and recorded. That means using software tools; but which tools?
Different groups need to perform planning, project management, requirements management, logical & physical architectural work, computer-aided design, simulation … the list goes on. No single tool is ever likely to support the needs of all stakeholders. Teams therefore have to agree on a stack of tools that (a) meet their needs and (b) can share data - at least to the extent needed to support communication between them. The problem of data exchange between tools is widely recognised and was touched on by several papers presented at the CSD&M conference 2.
It’s crucial that planners are able to use the toolset to analyse the impact of changes in the model and react to those changes. The world doesn’t stand still. Many things can change between initial concept and realisation. Assumptions may be rendered obsolete by outside factors, such as technologies that haven’t been invented yet. It’s not enough to plan the journey; it’s sometimes necessary to adjust course during the trip.
Ideally, tools would share data using a repository that supports continuity all the way from design innovation to engineering. However, structuring data and storing it is only part of the solution. To be useful, the data needs to be rendered into forms that are understandable. Understandability – and hence communication – can be enhanced by effective use of visualisation. One problem is that although computers can now decipher content and render it in ways that enable good human interaction, the tools commonly used to support the engineering lifecycle often don’t fully exploit these capabilities 2.
These are hard problems but businesses affected by new technologies have no option but to overcome them. They need to ensure that teams can work together effectively to exploit the new opportunities, or watch a competitor do it first. Inventing the future is a team game. The successful teams - those that see their vision turn into reality - are going to be those that communicate well.
First part of the article: Inventing the Future is a Team Game
MEGA sponsored the 7th International Conference on Complex Systems Design & Management held in Paris on 13 & 14 December 2016. The conference was organised jointly by the Centre of Excellence on Systems Architecture, Management, Economy and Strategy (CESAMES) and the Ecole Polytechnique.
1.Durantin, A., Fanmuy, G., Miet, S., Pegon, V. : “Disruptive Innovation in Complex Systems” in Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Complex Systems Design & Management, Springer International Publishing AG, 2017. http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319491028
2 The tool stack used on the SCCOA Air Defence System and techniques used for managing data exchange across the stack is described in , while  describes a formal approach to information sharing between modeling and simulation tools.
3. Thuy, N., : “Modelling and Simulation of the Dynamics of Complex Socio-Cyber-Physical Systems and Large Scale Systems of Systems all Along Their Lifetime”, ibid.