Rethinking Systems Analysis and Design
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Rethinking Systems Analysis and Design

General Systems Series: Volume 4

About the Book

Systems analysis and design have solved many problems, but they have also created many problems. This unique book tackles crucial analysis and design issues that are glossed over in conventional texts. It recognizes that while many problems are solved with systems analysis and design, many problems are also created.

Using a short, highly readable essay format, Rethinking Systems Analysis & Design presents readers with both the logical and the more intuitive aspects of the analysis/design process. The book is intended as an alternative for those who must deal with the less structured processes of analysis and design.

A witty and illustrative fable concludes each of this engaging book's seven parts. Among the informative topics are

- mastering complexity

- general systems thinking

- observing and interviewing

- trading off quality versus cost

- understanding the designer's mind

- design philosophy.

Computerworld said, "This isn't just another systems analysis and design book, but one about the problems and possible solutions encountered when implementing a structured approach."

Managing End-User Computing said: "Almost everything in this book translates directly into your own environment. . . . [You'll] find more wonderful stories, anecdotes, and fables in this book than you're likely to find even in a book on a more interesting subject than systems analysis!"

The International Journal of General Systems wrote: "For many years, Gerald Weinberg has been enlivening the often solemn scene of design methodology with his distillations of experience into expertise. His collections of essays, anecdotes, and consolidated wisdom are always inspiring and entertaining: his new work in this tradition will be good reading not only for designers but for anyone wanting to understand design, particularly the users and managers of information systems. . . . Until we do have the Grand Unified Theory of Design (if this is even possible), life lessons such as those in this book will continue to be the most useful guide there is, both for introducing prospective practitioners and for reminding the old hands of what they may occasionally forget."

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    • Project Management
    • Testing
    • Computers and Programming
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About the Author

Gerald M. Weinberg
Gerald M. Weinberg

I've always been interested in helping smart people be happy and productive. To that end, I've published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. I've also written books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the nine-volume Quality Software series.

I try to incorporate my knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of my writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, software engineers, and people whose life-situation could require the use of a service dog). I write novels about such people, including The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, Jigglers, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, Where There's a Will There's a Murder, Earth's Endless Effort, and Mistress of Molecules—all about how my brilliant protagonists produce quality work and learn to be happy. My books that are not yet on Leanpub may be found as eBooks at <>; on Amazon at; and at Barnes and Noble bookstore:

Early in my career, I was the architect for the Project Mercury's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. I won the Warnier Prize, the Stevens Award, and the first Software Testing Professionals' Luminary Award, all for my writing on software quality. I was also elected a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and chosen for the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame.

But the "award" I'm most proud of is the book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) written by my student and readers for my 75th birthday. Their stories make me feel that I've been at least partially successful at helping smart people be happy.

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Table of Contents

  • Rethinking Systems Analysis and Design
  • Preface
  • Part I. The New World of Systems Analysis and Design
    • Mastering Complexity
      • Scale
      • The Cost of Not Producing
      • Mastering Complexity with General Systems Thinking
    • Problems, Solutions, and Systems Analyst/Designers
      • Some Mistaken Names
      • The Problem-Solution Myth
      • The Job of the Synthesist
    • The Education of a Systems Analyst/Designer
      • What the Synthesist Needs to Know
      • The General Systems Approach as Learning Amplifier
      • Observer Training
      • Learning to Work with Models
      • Becoming a Designer
      • Where General Systems Training Fits into a Curriculum
      • Self-Development
    • Beyond Structured Programming
      • Looking ahead by looking back
    • The Three Ostriches: A Fable
  • Part II General Systems Thinking
    • What Is General Systems Thinking?
      • The Scientific-Disciplinary-Inductive Approach
      • The Mathematical-Interdisciplinary-Deductive Approach
      • The General Systems Approach
    • What Is the System—and Why Does the Question Count?
    • Interdisciplinary Learning
    • The Two Philosophers: A Fable
  • Part III Observation
    • The Black Box Method
      • Learning with the Black Box
      • Applications to Real Life
    • Can Observation be Learned in the Classroom?
    • The Natural History of White Bread
    • The Railroad Paradox
    • The Dog Who Read Fables: A Fable
  • Part IV Interviewing
    • A Surefire Question
    • Self-Validating Questions
    • “The Question Is …”
    • Avoiding the “Plop Problem”
    • Avoiding Communication Problems through Generalization
    • The Fairy and the Pig: A Fable
  • Part V Design Philosophy
    • A Simple View of Design
    • Thing versus Process—The Grand Dichotomy
    • The Three Bs
    • Design for Understanding
    • On the Origins of Designer Intuition
    • The Goat and the Hippo: A Fable
  • Part VI Tradeoffs
    • Optimitis and the Tradeoff Concept
    • Tradeoffs—Quality versus Cost
    • Trading Analysis for Design
    • A Tradeoff View of Error Correction
    • A Cribbage Lesson
    • The Water Moccasin and the Waterproof Moccasin: A Fable
  • Part VII The Designer’s Mind
    • Design as a Human Activity
    • Design—The Reality and the Romance
    • How to Find Miracles
    • A Postscript on Miracles
    • The Confusion Technique
    • WIGGLE Charts—A Sketching Tool for Designers
    • Featuring Failure
    • A Rose and a Rose: A Fable
  • Part VIII Epilogue
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A: The Diagram of Effects
    • Appendix B: The Software Engineering Cultural Patterns
      • Pattern 0. Oblivious Process
      • Pattern 1: Variable Process
      • Pattern 2: Routine Process
      • Pattern 3: Steering Process
      • Pattern 4: Anticipating Process
      • Pattern 5: Congruent Process
    • Appendix C. The Satir Interaction Model
      • Intake.
      • Meaning.
      • Significance.
      • Response.
    • Appendix D. Control Models
      • D.1. The Aggregate Control Model
      • D.2. Cybernetic Control Models
        • D.2.1 The system to be controlled (the focus of Patterns 0 and 1)
        • D.2.2 The controller (the focus of Pattern 2)
        • D.2.3 Feedback control (the focus of Pattern 3)
    • Appendix E. The Three Observer Positions
    • Appendix F: Description of the Black Box System
      • General Systems Theory Special Assignment: Studying the Black Box
      • Subsystem 1
      • Subsystem 2
      • Subsystem 3
      • Subsystem 4
      • Subsystem 5
      • Subsystem 6
      • Subsystem 7
      • Subsystem 8
  • Notes
      • Appendix A
      • Appendix B
      • Appendix C
      • Appendix D
      • Appendix E
  • Bibliography
  • Further Reading
    • Books for Consultants (and others)
    • The Quality Software Series
    • The Systems Thinking Series
    • Technology/Psychology
    • Novels: technology lessons framed in fiction.
    • Book Bundles

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