Defining Example: Sandia National Laboratories
System: Sandia National Laboratories is a system, whose components include problem/product-oriented groups (projects), line-oriented groups (e.g. departments), subject-matter-oriented groups (e.g. engineers, scientists, managers), a communication network, an influence network (including network incentives and regulations), and support systems (infrastructure).
Environment: A near environment would be delineated as those who receive a paycheck from Sandia, and includes the following: U.S. Government (DOE, DOD, DHS, etc), other funding sources, competitors, academia, home environments of the staff. A far environment, delineated by those who directly interact with Sandia, would include foreign countries, companies that don’t interact with Sandia, academia in non-scientific fields.
System of Systems: Individuals and groups have a wide variety of dynamically changing interactions. The organizations within Sandia are frequently self-organizing and autonomous, perhaps more so projects than line organizations, but they must be considered systems in their own right. Independent action and interdependence are both possibilities, and coordinating the development of multiple organizations simultaneously is tremendously difficult. Finally, the component systems are not independent; many individuals are connected to a variety of component subsystems.
Complex: There are a wide variety of mechanisms for interaction among the various components of the system: social interaction, funding interaction, space interaction, etc. Further, the component systems change on a variety of time scales, from seconds to years.
Adaptive: Certainly, Sandia adapts to changes in the environment. The end of the cold war and the establishment of telecommuting and CRADAs are among the forces that have changed the way the elements of the system interact.
Aspirations: A critical aspiration is to evolve to be robust and resilient. A first step is to define/characterize the state of the system so that it may be evaluated relative to robustness and resilience. This includes a characterization of SNL’s internal structure and function, as well as a characterization of SNL’s external interactions.
Approaches: A first step is to produce a real-time-updating model of the interactions, and seek metrics for measuring health, productivity, etc. Following that is to model policy changes and their effects on the state of the system. A next step would be a thorough study of the overall behavior space of the system to seek opportunities for leverage and better system behavior.
Attainability: Sparseness of data and complexity of the organization are the largest immediate hurdles in addressing Sandia as a CASoS. Beyond that, there are questions of obtaining acceptance, in the near term of analysis tools, and in the far term of the attempts that would make the system more robust and resilient (resistance stemming from turf considerations being a significant concern).