Investigation of a Graphical CONOPS Development Environment for Agile Systems Engineering – Phase II
Systems Engineering and Systems Management Transformation
Concept engineering, as addressed in this report, is the act of translating stakeholder
needs into a operational concept (or CONOPS) for a product or system capable of
satisfying the goals set forth by the stakeholder. This report summarizes the work
performed in the second phase of research on development of an approach to use
graphical and collaborative approaches to generating an operational concept for a new
The goal of this research phase was to develop an initial set of primitives (or core terms)
organized into a hierarchy (taxonomy) that is reusable when creating a collection of
future scenarios for different domain. The initial approach taken was to decompose a
well tested scenario, the Noncombatant Evacuation Operation Intelligence Gathering
Scenario (NEO). The first step was to perform a cognitive task analysis of what was
necessary to plan the scenario, and then to perform a decomposition of terms and
concepts used in the scenario. This effort resulted in a number of insights being
discovered, which advance the research to the next step. However, the NEO scenario
was found wanting in complexity and information. In discussions with the sponsor of
this research, it was recommended the team investigate a news agency as a more
representative analog for this research.
When a number of new agencies were investigated, and decomposed, a rich taxonomy
emerged that can be the basis for new domains. While each new domain will require an
expansion of the taxonomy with new terms and concepts, many are common. The
notion of transporting objects between locations, information gathering, and
communications are core to many actions that might be modeled. For instance, when
looking at a military mission of close air support, objects are moving from one location
to another, at specific times, and there is a high degree of communication and
collaboration necessary. The same can be said for emergency response for an oil spill.
While the objects may be domain specific, the movement, communications,
collaborations and actions are common at some level of abstraction. If those actions can
be collected and represented graphically, then the definition of new scenarios can be
accomplished quicker, and can be easier to understand.
This research report also examines an easy to understand graphical modeling approach
of snap together pieces associated with the developed taxonomy to aid the creation of
scenarios, or operational concepts.
Finally, this report provides recommendations for follow-on research in this area, and
proposes the development of a system that will aid the concept engineering process to
produce graphical operations concept building on the reusable taxonomy developed in
the research conducted in this phase.