Systems Thinking – The Information Flow Subsystem of the PDOS

Today we’re going to talk about the Information Flow subsystem of EAC’s Product Development Operating System.

Pre-1980 there were no IT groups and there were no great numbers of knowledge workers. With the emergence of the computer and the dawning of the information age there was an explosion of IT tools that transformed business systems. In the product development business system these tools initially focused on helping the individual. We had CAD and CAM tools for helping mechanical and electrical engineers. We had tools that applied synthetic annealing to optimize optic design. And we had tools that helped simulate or analyze the designs that came forward.

More recently there’s been an emergence of more complex tools that facilitate product development — Product Data Management, tools for collecting and archiving project information, and a variety of tools that help support decision making in product development.

Product development is a knowledge centric function of the organization, but the topic of knowledge management itself is one that spreads in a lot of directions. If we look at the IT backbone that supports knowledge management; that topic converges on a small number of complex, connectable, but functionally focused IT systems.

We’re all interested in making informed decisions. That being decisions that are supported and influenced by accurate real-time information. This requires the ability to get the appropriate information to the decision maker at the right place, at the right time. This is the goal of the Information Flow subsystem.

This Information Flow subsystem is also a subsystem of your IT system. In both of these systems there are two critical jobs for the subsystem. The first is to support the goals of that system itself. The second is to look at the interaction between this subsystem and the other subsystems within its parent system; those being the IT System and The Product Development Operating System.

Here at EAC we’ve been devising a visual model to help you remember The Product Development Operating System. In this model the Information Flow subsystem is the foundation. It’s so critical that it supports the rest of the system. In knowledge centric product development a strong information flow is critical to inform the decisions that are made in both the Workflow subsystem and the Continuous Improvement subsystem. Without it, we have nothing.


Contact EAC to learn more about how Systems Thinking and the application of our Product Development Operating System can help your organization become more efficient, productive, innovative, and competitive.