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Title: Making systems thinking routine systems engineering capability improvement in Rolls-Royce plc
Author: Dunford, Charlotte Natalie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 0270
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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The business of Rolls-Royce pic makes the routine use of systems thinking a requirement for excellence. Systems Engineering enables systems thinking and their combination is systems practice. This study investigates the improvement of systems practice, focusing on the defence aerospace project design engineers at the Bristol site of the company. Best practice for the assessment and improvement of systems practice in engineering has not been established. Evidence of Systems Engineering impact is lacking. This study contributes to these areas. Systems practice is, in part, a way of thinking so a participative approach to conducting this research is necessary for success. An action research spiral is used as a framework for the research methodology. This research uses surveys, interviews and workshops to build a grounded theory, shown graphically as influence and system dynamic models, describing the engineers' ways of working, how systems practice contributes to it and how to better enable systems practice. The models articulate dynamic hypotheses of abstract concepts to the engineers in an accessible, engaging way and are used to aid discussions of the research findings and develop a shared understanding of the situation. This theory informs the development, implementation and assessment of improvement activities to assist engineers in choosing and using Systems Engineering techniques. This study found that among the engineers involved in the research the use of formal Systems Engineering techniques is usually valuable. Systems Engineering is valued but its lack of application does not reflect this. This study shows that the methodology used provides a means to identify the issues preventing systems practice, and the connections between these issues. This brings clarity and an evidence-base to the Systems Engineering capability improvement work within a company. This knowledge leads to specific improvement activities and a method through which to validate their success.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Eng.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available