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Success in Acquisition: Using Archetypes to Beat the Odds

September 2010 Technical Report
William E. Novak, Linda Levine

This report describes key elements in systems thinking, provides an introduction to general systems archetypes, and applies these concepts to the software acquisition domain.

Publisher:

Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number

CMU/SEI-2010-TR-016

Abstract

This project on patterns of failure is based on experiences with actual programs, and employs concepts from systems thinking to analyze dynamics that have been observed in software development and acquisition practice. The software acquisition and development archetypes, based in part on the general systems archetypes, have been created as part of an ongoing effort to characterize and help manage patterns of counterproductive behavior in software development and acquisition.  

This report introduces key concepts in systems thinking and the general systems archetypes, and then applies these concepts to the software-reliant acquisition domain. Twelve selected software acquisition and development archetypes are each described and illustrated by a real-life scenario, and guidance is provided on both recovering from and preventing these dynamics. Finally, the authors consider implications of the work and future directions for research.