A Value Approach To Complex System Design Utilising A Non-Rigid Solution Space

  • Colin Quinn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The research presented in this thesis develops an improved design methodology for designing complex systems. While traditional methods have been able to create complex systems, their success is usually overshadowed by long delays and expensive overruns. The method developed within this research is known as Value Seeking System Design (VSSD) and builds upon the foundations of the System Engineering (SE) and Value Driven Design (VDD) approaches. Creation and implementation of the new design environment is provided, including a method on how to create the value model for any complex system.

Key conclusions from this work include a need to redefine the process in which stakeholder needs are currently defined and captured as well as a need to create an improved value model. Defining all stakeholders’ needs as requirements constrains the designer to a rigid solution space, which may not include the “best” solution for the stakeholder. Similarly not including the social aspects within a value model causes the designer to make poor value trades. To overcome these problems the VSSD technique incorporates desirements and their associated design desirability functions within the design process to create a non-rigid solution space while the value model has been redeveloped to easily incorporate the performance, economic and social aspects of a design, to allow a more accurate and balanced value trade off analysis to occur.

Benchmarking the VSSD approach against the current state of the art methods (SE and VDD) highlighted the advantages of adapting a value approach to complex system design compared to traditional requirement based techniques. Additionally while all three approaches were capable of designing complex systems the VSSD approach was demonstrated to be an improved design methodology as it possessed the benefits inherent within both the SE and VDD approaches without suffering from their limitations.
Date of AwardJun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorDanielle Soban (Supervisor) & Mark Price (Supervisor)


  • Value Seeking System Design, System Engineering, Value Driven Design, Value, Desirements

Cite this