In the agile domain, many times there is a discussion of emergent behaviour without actually explaining how this behaviour takes place or the source of the emergence.
In our domain, System of System is common. These SoS's have several attributes, one of which is emergence, but the other attributes are present as well and needed for the emergence to take place.
- Operational Independence of the Elements: If the SoS is disassembled into component systems the component systems must usefully operate independently.
- Managerial Independence of the Elements: The component systems not only can operate independently, they do operate independently. The component systems are separately acquired and integrated but maintain a continuing operational existence independent of the SoS.
- Evolutionary Development: The SoS does not appear fully formed. Its development and existence is evolutionary with functions and purposes added, removed, and modified with experience.
- Emergent Behavior: The system performs functions and carries out purposes that do not reside in any component system. These behaviors are emergent properties of the entire SoS and cannot be localized to any component system. The principal purposes of the SoS are fulfilled by these behaviors.
- Geographic Distribution: The geographic extent of the component systems is large. Large is a nebulous and relative concept as communication capabilities increase, but at a minimum it means that the components can readily exchange only information and not substantial quantities of mass or energy.
Along with these attributes there are Types of systems
- Directed: the integrated system-of-systems is built and managed to fulfill specific purpose.
- Centrally managed during long term operation to continue to fulfill those purposes, and any new ones the system owners may wish to address.
- Maintains an ability to operate independently, but their normal operational mode is subordinated to the central managed purpose.
- Collaborative: distinct from directed systems in that the central management organization does not have coercive power to run the system.
- The component systems voluntarily collaborate to fulfill the agreed upon central purposes.
- Agreements among the central players on service provision and rejection provide what enforcement mechanism there is to maintain standards.
- Virtual: lack a central management authority.
- Lack a centrally agreed upon purpose for the system-of-systems.
- Large scale behavior emerges, and may be desirable, but the supersystem must rely upon relatively invisible mechanisms to maintain it.
Here's an example of a System of Systems we encounter, that are no more less complex than an Enterprise business system. Heavy software, heavy hardware, lots of integration, changing requirements, hard deadlines, unrealistic budgets and schedules, an illusive benefits
To manage in the presence of these attributes and types, it is necessary to know what done looks like in definitive measures of Effectiveness, Performance, Technical parameters, Risk parameters, budget and schedule assessments, and a sustained vision of what capabilities are needed.
Without these, the project or program has a low probability of success, no matter what the domain.