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Asynchronous Evolution

In “Engineering A Safer World“, Nancy Leveson asserts that “asynchronous evolution” is a major contributor to costly accidents in socio-technical systems. Asynchronous evolution occurs when one or more parts in a system evolve faster than other parts – causing internal functional and interface mismatches between the parts. As an example, in a friendly fire accident where a pair of F-15 fighters shot down a pair of black hawk helicopters, the copter and fighter pilots didn’t communicate by voice because they had different radio technologies on board.

As another example, consider the graphic below. It shows a project team comprised of domain analysts and software developers along with two possible paths of evolution.

Happenstance asynchronous evolution is corrosive to product excellence and org productivity. It underpins much misunderstanding, ambiguity, error, and needless rework. Org controllers that diligently ensure synchronous evolution of the tools/techniques/processes amongst the disciplines that create and build its revenue generating products own a competitive advantage over those that don’t, no?

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