Good ideas with bad execution, or good execution of what should be bad ideas - an analysis of inferior, off-beat or malfunctioning products, and how other people's failures can help us design better stuff.
Want Some Meatballs With That System of Yours?
Asparagus isn’t my favorite vegetable, but I like the analogy Rene Penning de Vries, CTO of NXP makes in an interview with my colleague David Manners in which he describes how systems design has a desperate need to become more simplified: “Systems have become very complex. In terms of the architectural challenge it is phenomenal”, says Rene Penning de Vries, CTO of NXP, “there’s a tendency, from the old days, to have solutions that are spaghetti-like – where everything is working with each other. We need more to go to solutions that are more asparagus-like — from absolutely inter-tangled, to weakly-cobbled systems.”
The interview underscores the hellishly difficult challenge inherent in systems design — something that led to the demise of an ambitious program in the US to develop a new generation of spy satellites, recently chronicled in the excellent 11/07 NYT article — Death of a Spy Satellite Program, which points the finger squarely on the precipitous demise of systems engineering expertise in the US: “Another factor was a decline of American expertise in systems engineering, the science and art of managing complex engineering to weigh risks, gauge feasibility, test components and ensure that the pieces come together smoothly..