Chapter 6Identifying Opportunities

Donna H. Rhodes

Sociotechnical Systems Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Simon R. Goerger

Institute for Systems Engineering Research, Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), Vicksburg, MS, USA


Opportunities? They are all around us… There is power lying latent everywhere waiting for the observant eye to discover it.

(Orison Swett Marden)

6.1 Introduction

This chapter discusses a first step of any trade-off analysis, defining the opportunity space (also called opportunity definition, problem definition, or framing). To analyze the impacts of trades, it is essential to identify and understand the essence of the issue to be resolved. This is achieved through obtaining an understanding of the goals, constraints, and concerns of the decision-makers as well as the impact of and on the stakeholders. This is known as defining the opportunity space. Failure to identify and fully understand the correct opportunity space often results in an expenditure of scare resources to provide a viable solution to an opportunity of limited concern to the decision-maker(s), while not addressing the key issue (Parnell et al., 2011, pp. 280–281).

The opportunity space provides the foundation for the development of a tradespace to delineate creative, viable system solutions to the opportunity. As such, it is an essential component of the study. Figure 6.1 illustrates ...

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