DATA, INFORMATION and KNOWLEDGE -20 -Design Implementation Processes

Post 27 -by Gautam Shah


Data is raw collection of facts. Data is categorized into sets by the class of its contents, such as the character, text, words, numbers, images, etc., and by the interconnections of the substance. These two are the factors that colour the data, which otherwise is neat collection of facts. Data must be further organized, structured, interpreted, and presented to be meaningful as information. Same data can be had by many people or agencies, but the way it is used it begins to be proprietary information. Data gains context during processing. Raw data is useless, and has no value except the cost of identification, collection and storage. Data once collected is preserved, as the same data may offer new vision or information in future.

Espionage is a form of obtaining Information considered secret or confidential > Wikipedia image by Alphonse de Neuville

In nominal usage, data refers to facts, posed to our receptive faculties or sense organs. Data is perceived, when it is within the limited perceptive (sensory) capabilities, and if has some relevance to our needs. Data perception is affected by the mental and physical state. Our mind (and other organs) processes the data into Information. Data processing refers to acts like gathering, manipulating and transmitting for specific objectives.

Health Data collection Flickr image by Possible > Nyaya Health:Ridikot’s CHWL

Data is open knowledge, but when perceived in some context or for a probable purpose, it becomes information. Information, on the contrary is a personalized property. One person’s information becomes another person’s data. To work efficiently, and within the personal biological capacity, one retains only relevant sections of data.

Data can be processed manually, mechanically and electronically. And with each of the processing data gets structured differently providing new insights. A machine (mechanical, electronics) processes data according to set parameters, so is more objective then any manual processing.

Hollerith electric (but not electronic) tabulating machine 1890 USA census

Electronic or digital systems have better receptors and larger storage capacities (and improving day by day). Such systems, like their biological counterparts, invariably include barriers or filters to select only relevant things. A computer during the receiving and recording phase converts relevant things into a storable representation or a surrogate form.

The information stored in the mind or thins out with time, so must be either communicated or recorded. Recording is formatting information over a medium. In-forming implies that a form is impressed onto -a medium. The formatted (recorded) expression on a medium is less likely to get lost with time. Recorded and communicated material is already processed, but as we re-communicate it, it gets further processed. During each process of expression, perception, recording or retrieving, information corruption occurs.

Methods and modes of ‘formatting’ the information are like: writing, printing, transmitting, receiving, storing, retrieving, etc. However, formatting, ‘conditions’ the data, and often ‘corrupts’ it. The forming mediums are physical, such as: paper, magnetic tape, etc. and formatting tools are: languages, images, graphics, metaphors, etc.

Jean Baptiste Falcon Loom with punched panels > Wikipedia image by Rama

 The information expression and formation (on a medium), both are acts of communication. The originator, though, has less control on how the expression will be perceived or recorded (in-formed). The Information originator accessing own records at some other time-space level cannot revert to the original physical and mental state, and so re-experience or reestablish the original. The communicated information manifests slightly differently, yet it is a ‘knowledge transmission process’. For communication to occur the originator and the accessing user both must follow common modalities.

Documents are ‘lots of related knowledge’, which when referred to, provide the intended information. Once information is perceived from data set, it is placed or linked to a document. In other words like other storable units it is modulated according to what it is to contain, and stacked (stored) according to how it is placed, referred and retrieved.

Sinhala Palm-leaf medical manuscript 1700 > Wikipedia image

Traditional documents are like: letters, reports drawings, specifications, procedures, instructions, records, purchase orders, invoices, process control charts, graphs, pictures, etc. Such documents’ ‘pages’, chapters or sections are placed together to maintain order of placement. Sub units of documents also carry a positional identifier like page, chapter or section number. Documents are stored in their order of arrival, category, size, nature (paper, books, tapes, etc.), author etc. Traditional documents as sequential data storage system are also created in the form of index cards, punched data cards, magnetic tapes, etc. A digital document stores information in pre-sized lots of bytes and bits. These may offer random access, such as with floppy disks, CDs, HDs, etc. A file allocation table FAT as a dynamic index system manages the access to it.

Ledger room of Post office savings bank Blythe House West Kensington UK > Wikipedia image

Files are the most common units of information transfer. Filed information has: a title, a description of contents and the mass of content. Additionally it occupies a space, so size, and the birth context (date/ time/ location/ other circumstances of origin). Beyond these primary endowments, a file may be given different attachments (links and references). A file carries many identifiers such as:

  • time (of origin)
  • size (of storage, transmission time & effort)
  • author, contributors
  • content (index, key words, summary)
  • place of origin
  • place of destination, identity recipient
  • authority to create, read, write, alter and delete the contents of a file
  • affiliations, linked documents, preceding and following documents
  • references
  • embedded codes
  • signs, symbols
  • language
  • style
  • mode of communication
  • limits and conditions of relevance

It is through such identities that a file begins to be relevant or worthy of access. A simple file is nominally static, because its data entities are allocated specific physical space. A complex file may contain variable size space allocations. There are often filters that decide which of the data entities are to be allocated a free or variable space.

Prints and drawings access room British Museum > Wikipedia image by M.chohan

Data entities in a file remain permanent or are changeable. The conditions that cause a data to remain permanent or be variable could be external or internal. The internal conditioners are inseparable parts of information files. In a static file, the structure remains unaltered even while data entities are changed. The meaning deriving out of that file however, may change. Static files are easy to process, but are incapable of providing qualitative information. Static files usually contain data that is mathematical or substantially logical. In dynamic files the structure of a file gets altered along with the nature of data entities. Dynamic files are complex to process.

A dynamic file system -Cockpit voice recorder > Wikipedia image by Dtom

Hard copy vs Soft copy: Substantial quantity of information is generated as hard copy, i.e. written or printed. It is possible to copy these type of documents in parts or whole, through processes like carbon copying, scanning, lithography, screen printing, transfer printing, photo and Xerox copying. Some of these processes require specific media. Few processes are capable of enlarging or reducing the scale (micro films). But contents cannot be edited, revised or manipulated. A digital data file is often called a soft copy because its contents can be manipulated with much ease. It can also be linked as a whole or by its parts, to other files or their parts. It can be analyzed, dissected, reassembled, rearranged or restructured. Through such manipulations even ordinary looking data takes on different forms, and new meanings can be established.

Book scanner digitizes in form but its contents remain opaque > Wikipedia image by Dvortygirl 

Most printed documents are opaque. It is very difficult to superimpose or merge two or more such documents. Digital documents, on the other hand can be treated as set of layers or even three dimensional matrices. Digital documents can be treated as transparent and miscible. Auto-CAD creates files as transparent layers. Digital files could be made interactive (such as with spreadsheets), i.e. a change in one file can be made pervasive in all other linked files.

Information Resources of Organizations: Data arrives in organizations, at periodic intervals or on a continuous basis, but it arrives in parts, that will:

  • – probably form a whole,
  • – automatically create a structure with definite boundaries (close ended)
  • – form an ever growing matrix (open ended).

Organizations receive and generate lot of data, which have two sets of relevance. Information with distant use is strategic, and will be used for planning and forecasting. Strategic information is more general than any tactical information. Information with immediate use is tactical, and is used for decision making and problem solving. Operational uses of information are very occasion or situation specific.


Prime Internal Information Resources, IIR for organizations are: experience and knowledge that comes with owners, employees, consultants, etc., and data generated from the routine activities. The External Information Resources, EIR are: input and feedback from consultants, suppliers, contractors and clients. These are media-based such as books, periodicals, internet, CDs, tapes, etc. External information once procured by the organization, if properly stored can be a great internal asset.

Internal Resources of Information in an Organization > Wikipedia image

Internal information is personal, departmental or organizational. Internal information resources are nearly free, require only processing at a negligible cost, but are ignored. Organizations thrive and proliferate on the quality and quantity of data within their reach. Organizations by continuously processing their data generate synergies that in turn sharpen their data processing capacity.

External information is inter-organizational, fraternity level, society, community, national, or of a universal domain. External information is acquired for a payment of compensation in proportion to its quality, quantity and acuteness of need. Organizations, as a result, end up paying a stiff price for sourcing external information.

Information procured at Cost > Wikipedia-Flickr Image by Rafael Matsunaga

Cost of information: Information as a commodity can have an ordinary cost, if it is universally available and not urgently needed. However, information of rare or proprietary nature and that requiring immediate access can have a high price. Information is also available without any obligations in many free domains. Cost of information is also formed by absolute factors like the cost of acquisition, processing, storing, retrieval and transmission.

Information systems and emerging forms of business organizations: Information systems affect the structure of organizations and design of the workplaces. Information networked organization are more dynamic because the workers communicate among themselves, and with other firms. These provide for greater coordination and collaboration in projects’ handling. These strategies have also ‘led many organizations to concentrate on their core competencies and to out-source other parts of work to specialized companies’. ‘The capacity to communicate information efficiently within an organization has also led to the deployment of flatter organizational structures with fewer hierarchical layers’.

Organizations with clustered information systems are built around portable computers, mobile telecommunications, and group-wares have enabled employees to work virtually anywhere. ‘Work is the thing you do, not the place you go to’. Employees who work in virtual workplaces outside their company’s premises are known as Tele-commuters.

Organization’s Information structures Wikipedia image

Two forms of virtual organizations have emerged: network organizations and cluster organizations. A network organization of individuals or geographically widely dispersed small companies working with internet and wide area networks, can join seamlessly through specific protocols to present a multi disciplinary appearance of a large organization. The subsets operating in all time zones seem to be operating 24 x 7. In a cluster organization, the principal work units are permanent, complimented by multiplicity of service providers or temporary teams of individuals. A job or project begins to percolate within the cluster and different sub units begin to react to it, providing their inputs. A solution begins to emerge from apparently fuzzy and often unrelated ideas or concepts. Team members, are connected by intranets and groupware.

‘Data is abundant, but mostly redundant. Information exists in data, if one is inclined to derive knowledge out of it. But for wisdom one may not need any knowledge’.

Knowledge is acquisition involving complex cognitive processes, such as perception, communication, and reasoning. Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills. These are acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. Knowledge can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise), or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject).

Knowledge is learning from experience, observation and perception. The learning from information resources is an ever evolving process. Observation and perception are subjective, but information resources offer verifiable opportunity. The information resources offer simultaneously several points of views, strategies and solutions.

AI -artificial intelligence helps in image analysis > Shibuya (past) station on Tokyo line > Wikipedia image by Joi Ito

Application of Artificial Neural Networks : Most of the traditional processes, including the computer programmes are linear or sequential. Execution occurs in a step by step process and sometimes with circular commands that use iteration. A neural network processes information collectively, in parallel mode. It changes its internal structure based on the information flowing through it. It is a complex but adaptive system.

Simulation and Visualization -Siemens PLM Software > Tecnomatix > Flickr Image

Artificial neural networks are applied to speech recognition, image analysis and adaptive control, to construct software design tools and autonomous robots. Most of the currently employed artificial neural networks for artificial intelligence are based on statistical estimation, optimization and control theory. Application areas for Artificial Neural Networks also include system identification and control (vehicle control, process control), game-playing and decision making (backgammon, chess, racing), pattern recognition (radar systems, face identification, object recognition and more), sequences recognition (gesture, speech, handwritten text recognition), medical diagnosis, financial applications, data mining, visualization and e-mail spam filtering.

Image of Bone density structure -subtracted out and rendered as black which was changed to transparent layer > 3D display stacking up the slices in open space > Wikipedia image by Dale Mahalko

Artificial neural networks are applied to following categories of tasks:

  1. Function approximation, or regression analysis, including time series prediction and modelling;
  2. Classification including pattern and sequence recognition, novelty detection and sequential decision making;
  3. Data processing, including filtering, clustering, blind signal separation and compression.

Fuzzy Logic : Fuzzy logic is an organized and mathematical method of handling inherently imprecise concepts. It is specifically designed to deal with imprecision of facts (fuzzy logic statements). For example, the concept of coldness cannot be expressed through an equation, because it is not quantity like the temperature is. There is no precise cutoff between cold and not so cold. Whether a person is inside or outside the house is imprecise if one stands on the threshold. Is the person slightly inside or outside the house? While quantifying such partial states (xx % inside and yy % outside) yields a fuzzy set membership.

A react-able platform at Altman Centre 2007 >Wikipedia image by Daniel Williams NYC USA

Fuzzy logic is derived from fuzzy set theory dealing with reasoning that is approximate rather than precisely deduced from classical predicate logic. Fuzzy truth represents membership in vaguely defined sets and not randomness like the likelihood of some event or condition. Probability deals with chances of that happening. So fuzzy logic is different in character from probability, and is not a replacement for it. Fuzzy logic and Probability refer to different kinds of uncertainty.

Complex animated visualization of Wasp parasitized by the fungus Cordyceps (order Hypocreales) > Image Attribute. Erich G. Vallery USDA forest service -SRS-4552

Fuzzy logic is used in high-performance error correction systems to improve information reception (such as over a limited bandwidth communication link affected by data-corrupting noise). Fuzzy logic can be used to control household appliances such as washing machines (which sense load size and detergent concentration and adjust their wash cycles accordingly), refrigerators, rice cookers, cameras focussing, digital image processing (such as edge detection), elevators, Fuzzy logic is used for video game artificial intelligence, language filters on message boards and for filtering out offensive text in chat messages, remote sensing, etc.



RISK MANAGEMENT – 24 – Design Implementation Processes

Post 26 -by Gautam Shah


Risks and Human Endeavours : A great deal is expected from human endeavours set up with expense of resources, effort and time, be it entities, events or organizations. Human endeavours, when fail to take off, perform adequately, or satisfy its stack-holders, pose risk.

Endeavours fail on two counts : Human endeavours do not work for the conceived functions or the original functions do not remain relevant.

● For the first case, the fault may be that it was not adequately conceived or the functions were not properly defined.

● In the second case, between the planning and operations phase the circumstances change and it is not feasible to recast the programme.

Anthropogenic hazards are those hazards caused directly or indirectly by human action or inaction.

Train wreck at Montparnasse station at place de Rennes side (now place du 18 Juin 1940) Paris France 1895 > Wikipedia image

What is a Risk? Risk is any set of such conditions that adversely affect a human endeavour. One can avoid, manage or accommodate, risks to a limited extent, but beyond these, the effects of risks have to be compensated, replaced or transformed in such a way, that there is a sense of equilibrium. One may not be able to reestablish the lost entity, reenact the missed event or resurrect the dead organization, but one may, indemnify against such losses.

Union Carbide Plant gas leak at Bhopal India > Wikipedia image by Simone.lippi at it.wikipedia 

Defining Risks : ‘Risk is any factor that affects an activity or object, denoting a likely negative impact from some present process or future event’. Contrary to this some believe risks often have an advantage, like a lottery that may provide unusually large gain for a very small loss. Risk if negative is valued against the scale of loss and frequency of occurrence.

Irish Potato Famine Memorial in Dublin > Wikipedia image by AlanMc on en.wikipedia

Types of Risks-I : Purchasing a lottery ticket is a risky investment with a high chance of no return and a small chance of a very high return. But since the amount lost is small and the gain very large, lots of people go for it. In contrast investing money in a company involves a large investment, so we take care to find out the identity of the company. A government bond though provides a small interest is considered less risky. In finance the greater the risk, higher is the potential return.

Types of Risks-II : Risks in personal health are reduced by preventive actions, like avoiding illness causing situations. Secondary prevention can come by early diagnosis and perhaps preventive regimen and treatment. Third level of action is directed in terminating negative effects of an already established disease by restoring function and reducing disease-related complications.

Categories of Risks

● Natural Risks: These originate from outside the system due to the context or changes in the environment. This could be perceived as an advantage in a system which can be isolated with a barrier. Some interactive systems must flourish with the environment have to ‘manage’ the environment.

● Circumstantial failures: These are accidental, i.e. unpredictable in scale (size) and time of occurrence. The circumstances, within which an endeavour takes place is continuously variable and unpredictable, so is perceived as a natural failure.

● Intentional Risks: These are due to avoidable or malicious acts. Avoidable acts include adventurism, neglect, destructive tendencies etc.

● Man-made failures: These occur due to faults in conception, observance or operations of the system. These can be set right by foresight, flexibility of approach (such as adopting ‘open system or open-ended architecture’), provisions of additional capacities, and by including escape or safety procedures.

Man-Made Failures occur, because:

1. System is not designed or adequately equipped (technically) to serve the nominally expected functions.

2. System is required to serve functions for which it is not designed and there no processes to regulate the overuse, misuse or under or non-use.

3. System has a rigid design, structure or setup regimen which prevents corrections or improvisations.

4. System is so liberal (loosely or irregularly structured) that a coordinated emergency action plan cannot be enforced.

Relief supplies for Earthquake disaster for Jan 26, 2001, Gujarat, India by C-17 Globemaster III  aircraft > Wikipedia image

What is a Risk Management System? When endeavours fail to perform then a fresh effort is required. Risk management deals with such eventualities. It determines the chances of an occurrence, de-intensify the affectations, and create means to mitigate the losses.


Types of Risks

● Determinable Risks are predictable and suitable risk avoidance measures can take care of it. Certain factors trigger such risks, so observance and reportage mechanisms for such conditions can help avoid it.

● Indeterminable Risks have very low probability, or the twin aspects such as scale of affectation and pattern of occurrence are indeterminable. The damage and suffering cannot be predicted. Its mitigation is left to the concerned age and society.

● Probable Risks are predictable but within limits of probability. Here the trigger factors are not easily definable. Historical experiences show us what could be the scale of affectation and pattern of occurrence. Affectation can be spatially isolated and temporally limited, by design of the joints, connections, and by spacing and distancing. The occurrence schedules may be matched with a timed action, or even planned dormancy. Additional capacities (factor of safety, safe margins), are provided for such contingencies.

RISK Management Standard ISO 31000

Risk management processes are applied to project management, security, engineering, industrial processes, financial portfolios, actuarial assessments, and public health and safety. Risk Management has been recognized as a generic standard under series ISO 31000.

  • ISO 31000:2009 -Principles and Guidelines on Implementation
  • ISO/IEC 31010:2009 -Risk Management -Risk Assessment Techniques
  • ISO Guide 73:2009 -Risk Management -Vocabulary
End to End Risk Management Process ISO 31000 > Wikipedia image by Stuart G Hamilton

Managing the Risks : One can avoid, manage or accommodate risks to a limited extent. Beyond these, the effects of risks have to be compensated, replaced or transformed in such a way, that there is a sense of equilibrium. One may not be able ‘to reestablish the lost entity, reenact the missed event, or resurrect the dead system’, but one may indemnify against such losses.


Dorfman 1997 prescribes four way strategies for managing the risks:

  • Tolerate (retain),
  • Treat (mitigate),
  • Terminate (eliminate),
  • Transfer (buy insurance, hedge).

Ideal use of these strategies may not be possible as some of them may involve trade offs that are not acceptable to the organization or person making the risk management decisions. Another source (US Department of Defense) calls this ACAT, for

  • Accept,
  • Control,
  • Avoid,
  • Transfer.

Risk Avoidance is just one important aspect of risk management. It means ‘controlling all detrimental activities’. But all risks cannot be avoided and thereby managed. Some risks are delayed, hastened, diverted, or even embraced. Avoiding risks also means losing out a very high gain potential situation. Many take a ‘calculated plunge’ for a small or rare risk.

Hierarchy of Hazard controls > Wikipedia image by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Risks in Business : In business taking on a client (a new project) does not always translate into extra income. Because a new project may entail dealing with an unusual or odd client or requiring additional resources and it may mean less or no profit for the organization. Similarly taking on a prestigious assignment is a challenge, but the outlay on handling could be far more in comparison to a nominal project. Another example would be procuring a non standard product or system (without a full guarantee and warrantees) for an acute need, could mean greater cost of corrective measures.

Ways of managing Risks

● Risk Reduction, involves strategies to reduce the severity of the loss. In buildings this include fire escapes, controlled use of combustible materials, installation of sprinklers with fire detectors, etc. The cost of such risk reduction systems are checked in terms of what it can save or prevent.

● Risk Retention, means the person or the party bears the loss resulting out of an event. This is a viable strategy for small risks where the cost of insuring and getting compensation would be greater, like in minor illness or injuries. All risks that are not avoided or transferred are presumed to be bourn or retained by the person or party.

Risk transfer through Leaf springs > Wikipedia image

● Risk Transfer to another party by contract or by hedging (as in betting). Insurance is one type of risk transfer that uses contracts. Risks are transferred to another party, schedule to other time, shifted to different / separate location. The pace of transfer is often hastened or slowed, and the affectations are concentrated or spread. Risk of injury due to local impact (and so intensive) are spread to a wider area by means such as a helmet, a car air-bag, knee pad, a seat belt, etc. Impact buffers and such stopper mechanisms absorb the impact or divert it.

Risk Synergy Systems exist in some biological systems, pliant compositions and pseudo intelligent entities (e.g. some equipment with fuzzy logic and neural networking). These have capacity to self regulate or organize to accommodate the conditions of change. Such systems are inherently restricted or finite in capacity. Their risk sensing and accommodative functionality are available so long as required energy and other inputs are available. Designers strive to emulate such systems by integrating the risk handling features (such as: gas and fire detectors, auto sprinklers, auto open-shut opening systems, burglar alarms, earth quake and heavy wind load absorbers, etc.), into their creations.

Strategies for Handling Risks


Prioritization in Risk Management : A process of prioritization has many facets. Saving lives is given a higher priority then salvaging goods and equipments. Evacuation of human beings has greatest priority then saving a structure. But many countries feel sacrificing a human life may be unavoidable then surrender to a terrorist hostage situation. Risks with greater probability, higher monetary loss (of replacement), are handled first.

Saving lives is given higher priority than salvaging goods and equipments > Wikipedia image by Jacoplane

Cost aspects of Risks : Risk management include equating the cost of controlling the risk versus the cost of compensating the losses. It also includes the evaluating the cost of recovery against the expense for compensation. Justifying the cost of being prepared over a long duration for an event that has low probability.

Economics of Risk : Risks result into losses, delays, setbacks and deaths (humans, flora-fauna and diffusion or termination of the systems). Ideally, the expenditure on risk management must be minimized, while maximizing the risk-safe zones and periods (MTF =meantime between failures). Yet, sometimes risks are indulged into, or ignored in view of the benefits (often called a gamble or calculated risks).

Commercial Risks : In the commercial world risks are of two types: Inherent risks are part of any business operation, and affect the profits or opportunities negatively. Incidental risks are natural, and not always part of, or due to the business activity.

Wikipedia -NASA image

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Risks in Projects : Projects are work entities to accomplish certain goals, with a set start, process of run or operation and end or termination of the endeavour. Any condition that does not allow these objectives being achieved, is a risk. The risk could be intrinsic or extrinsic. The intrinsic risks could be handled through good design, management, and modalities of accommodation. The origins of extrinsic risks, are beyond the organization, so their nature, schedule, frequency of occurrence and scale of affectation must be identified.

Shanghai Cloud Nine shopping Mall – vacant store – China’s real estate failures > Wikipedia image by WiNG

Risks in Projects : Risks in projects are identified by enacting various scenarios (combination of various possibilities occurring together). The scenario, if risky is further probed to assess its potential severity and extent of loss. These two quantities are simple to measure, and then set as the value of the damaged component. The probability of occurrence, however, is difficult or impossible to assess as an event, mainly due to lack of its history.

History of Risk or Rate of Occurrence : The fundamental difficulty in risk assessment is determining the rate of occurrence, since in many instances the statistical information is unavailable. Furthermore, evaluating the severity of the consequences (impact) is often quite difficult for immaterial assets (with emotional value). Asset valuation is another question that needs to be addressed. Thus, best educated opinions and available statistics are the primary sources of consideration.

Cumulative effect of Risk Measures : Provisions for various risks tend to have a cumulative effect. For example a building foundation is designed to carry the load of the building, with additional provisions for an earth quake, hurricanes, temporary loadings, etc., but not all of these are likely to occur simultaneously. Similarly we provide extra for individual considerations: loads calculations, strength of cement concrete and steel bars. These, if not properly attuned, these can add up to substantial over spending. All provisions for risks need a careful working for the individual, as well as cumulative effect.

Collapsed portion of Mississippi Bridge 2007 > Wikipedia image by Kevin Rofidal US Coast Guard

Design Projects and Risks : Design Projects fail to satisfy a client, or are commercial losers for a variety of reasons like, shift in taste, changes in market demands, arrival of new technologies, prices, etc. Many of these factors begin to be affective when projects’ execution is long drawn or delayed. Finishing of projects on schedule, eases many such problems. Projects become risky due to poor definition of the project requirements, and lack of complete understanding and acceptance of the project profile report by the client. Interior Design projects often fail due to ironclad specifications, which may not allow correction or improvisation during execution. The risks on this count can be taken care of, for example by keeping ‘open certain windows’ for later formulation or decision. These are often done by hiring other agencies for work that is likely to occur in different time and space.

A Designer must be extremely careful of individual warrantee and guarantee that when read as a combination often cancels out each other. Complex Interior Design projects formed of several systems (offered by equally varied vendors), have conflicting provisions.

Governors of the Wine merchants’ Guild sought methods to minimize risks since early times > Wikipedia – ART work by Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680)

Insurance : Insurance is a risk management investment. By paying a small sum, the premium, risks are conditionally insured. The compensation is invariably for providing an equivalent product or commercial value (at the time of loss or more commonly the depreciated value of the original or cost of replacement) in monetary terms. Insurance is an indemnity against loss. It is a way of contracting out of a risk. A person, company, an organization, or government, pay a small amount -premium, to protect own self from a potential large loss. In case of risk insurance, however, only risks that are stated distinctly in the contract are included for premium compensation, all other risks (including unknown and indeterminable ones) are presumed to be bourn by the party (insurer).

Lloyd’s coffee house London was the first Marine Insurance Company > Wikipedia image

Other losses of Risks : Emotional and such other associated considerations (nose of an actress) are often insured, but by determining a fixed value for it, before a contract is made. Value for the loss of life, is an example of similar nature. Loss of opportunity such as earning, business, etc. due to sickness, injury, strikes, riots, war, etc. can also be insured. Loss due to certain happenings like flood, riot, calamity, malicious damage by any person, devaluation of currency, sudden drop or rise in prices, defaulted business services, blames, lawsuit expenses, fines, compensation payments, etc. can be provisioned through insurance.

High value horses may be insured > Wikipedia image by ThebluZebra at En.wikipedia

Distribution of Risks by Insurance company : A typical insurance company working on life insurance has a large clientele consisting of people of various age, vocation, etc. Of these only few will die, in a year, for which compensation is paid. The premium rates are based on historical data, such life expectancy, rate of natural deaths and caused by accident, etc. An actuary is an expert who compiles and analysis’ statistics in order to calculate insurance risks and premiums.

Geographical distribution of earthquake risk > Wikipedia image by CC-by-sa PlaneMad/ Wikipedia (Link

 Reinsurance by Insurance Companies : An insurance company can be in a problem zone, if in one locality many people were to die simultaneously. In such an eventuality, the sudden demand for compensation can be very difficult to meet. To provide for such an eventuality, the insurance company re-insures itself with another company that perhaps has no such liability in the same geographic region. This reinsurance strategy spreads the risks, over time and space.

Hurricane Katrina storm and floods caused widespread damage at a location / Insurance Cos save themselves from such eventualities by Re-insuring > Wikipedia image by Jocelyn Augustino

Geographical affectations of Collective Risks : The insurance company operates on the premise that not all risks happen simultaneously and to all the insurers. Insurance companies plan their business in such a way that in comparison to their premium income the amount to be paid out for compensation is less, resulting in meeting the administrative expenses of business and a reasonable profit.

Often for a very large risk like insurance for nuclear power plant or a space craft, the insurance company or some other commercial entity acts as an underwriter. It may not on its own insure any risk personally, but as a professional body with very strict rules of conduct, manages everything about insurance and takes the first liability. It than, divides and transfers the risk, to several insurance companies by sharing the earned premium.





SYSTEMS THINKING – 23 -Design Implementation Processes

Post 25 -by Gautam Shah


Systems : When things come together to represent a working whole, it is for two reasons: 1 as realism, where things coexist on a location (space) or are concurrent for an occasion (time); 2 as an abstract web of inter-connectivity or interdependency of things. Eberhardt Rechtin, defines a system as: “a collection of elements which, interrelated and working together, creates useful results which no part of the elements can create separately”. In both the cases things interpolate to manifest a system. The interpolation could be due to proximity, some commonality or complete suffusion.

Sub systems embedded in a larger system (in ADSL Modem/router) Image by Mike1024 on en.wikipedia

Simple and Complex systems : Simple systems are holistic and so balanced or with thermodynamic equilibrium due to little interference from external environment. Compared to this complex systems, affected by many external energies are continuously varying. Complex systems often seem boundless, nested and are effusive. Simple systems have definitive edges, and are like small buildings, newspaper or a computer programme. Complex systems have diffused boundaries due to convergence of other systems. Complex systems are such as our own body, city administration or internet. Nature’s systems are very extensively spread reaching to infinity, and include atmosphere, planetary or food chains.

Earth Water and Air > Edge less -convergent systems (Aarde water en lucht) > Flickr image by Rookuzz

Systems’ Edges : Systems, be they real, virtual or hypothetical, are all defined by their edge conditions. The edges, when are break-less, create a holistic or closed ended entity. But with nodes or the breaches an open-ended system comes into being (a node= nodus -Latin = knot is either a connection, point of joint, a redistribution point, an end or terminal point). A hypothetical or abstract one is completely suffused and so is omnipresent.

Green House -a nature’s system with edges > Pixabay image by Mariamichelle

Designed and Natural Systems : In a designed (intentional) system nearly all sub units have a purpose of their in being with the others. In designed systems the sub units are selected, prepared, modified, manufactured, for being together in a particular format. In a complex system only a few sub units are relevant to other units. Here some sub units occasionally and due to their position remain latent. Natural systems are usually large and complex. Here the sub units do not reveal themselves, unless their order is probed.

A complex system is one that by design or function or both is difficult to understand and verify’ (Weng, Bhalla and Iyengar).

Respiratory System > Wikipedia image by LadyofHats

Familiar Systems of Buildings, Furniture, etc. : Systems in buildings occur both as holistic and components systems. Buildings show convergence of many different systems such as environmental, structural, openings, barricading, etc. Furniture systems emerge due to frequent resetting of arrangement and reassignment of functions. Furniture systems are apparent on count of modularity, utility, typology, styling etc.

Mechanical, Electrical Plumbing MEP systems of services as a comprehensive system in a building > Wikipedia image by Eric T Gunther

Building as a system : Traditional building systems are simpler because the components are individually dealt, drawn, built and serviced. This makes it easier to deal with them in different time, space and by different agencies. Buildings have to operate in a larger context, and so nodes, boundaries, edges, connectivity, modularity, are inevitable. Buildings with very large footprints and strong community concerns have this imprint. But buildings conceived for the sake of systematization are strongly disciplined bound and often sited anywhere, irrespective of climate, orientation, location or terrain.

Base of 30 St Mary Axe, London UK Diagrid > Wikipedia image by Arpingstone

Architectural Systems

Good architecture may be viewed as a ‘partitioning scheme,’ or algorithms, which partitions all of the system’s present and foreseeable requirements into a workable set of cleanly bounded subsystems with nothing left over. It is a partitioning scheme which is exclusive, inclusive, and exhaustive. A major purpose of the partitioning is to arrange the elements in the sub systems so that there is a minimum of interdependencies needed among them’.

The need for complexity in building system occurs due to the pursuit of the unusual. To conceive a system that is complex yet fully integrated requires multi-disciplinary approach. For complex building external experts arrive to offer solutions but without comprehension of the totality’.

Pre-cast panels’ construction > Flickr Image

Systems approach in building Design :

‘Modular design, or ‘modularity in design’, is a design approach that subdivides a system into smaller parts called modules or skids, which can be independently created and then used in different systems. A modular system can be characterized by functional partitioning into discrete scalable, reusable modules, rigorous use of well-defined modular interfaces, and making use of industry standards for interfaces’.

Biomimicry is one such order that is subsumed in buildings. Complex systems often exhibit hysteresis, a phenomenon in which the reaction of the system to changes is dependent upon its past reactions to change. (Hysteresis = history affects the value of an internal state). This sort of memory retention or recollection (such as of previous exposure to magnetism is the working principle in audio tape and hard disk devices or recovery from complicated deformations in the state of substances) is just one facet of system behaviour. It is sought to be seen as simplistic and stand-alone hysteresis.

Systems Thinking : Systems thinking concept began to emerge post 1920s. It began from realization that small catalytic events occurring in different time and space, cause significant change in complex system. Often identification of such scarce events helps to acknowledge existence and scale of the larger domain. Systems thinking recognize circular causation or iteration, where a variable is both the cause and the effect of another. It accepts the nonlinear and organic interrelationships between things.

Traffic is a nonlinear problem with organic relationships > Ho Chi Minh city Vietnam > Wikipedia image by Lars Curfs (Grashoofd)

Systems Engineering : Systems Engineering is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of integrated or holistic systems. It starts very early, usually precedes the planning or concept design stage. It combines the contribution of all technologies, circumstances and human expertise. At another level it considers the business and its various needs like finance, logistics and marketing into one larger perspective.

Red Fort Plan (before 1857) New Delhi, > Wikipedia image by Goran tek-en

 Systems thinking in Design : Designers see the space design as bubbles or doodles of function modules, each recognized with non-material barriers, and of proportional extent. This is a mental process and manual expression, of the intents. It needs conversion to a scaled layout, and workshop or site details. To carry on the original essence of design through dimensioning, material definitions, styling, etc. and more importantly for confirmation by all stack holders is a difficult endeavour. Only clarity that comes through is delineation of space delimiting barriers and space servicing elements. The elements that form these two categories are mutually not exclusive, so a cohesive system without gaps, overlaps or repetition must occur.

Leonardo, the Italian Space Agency -built multipurpose Logistics module for space station > Wikipedia image by NASA

Types of Systems : Systems have different connotations depending on who considers it such as people concerned with buildings, architects, interior designers, structural engineers, builders, promoters and occupants. To compound the problem, many different ideologies from other fields are being implicated here. Some of these include: Components and Systems approach, Holistic or Unified approach, Prefabrication and Modular coordination, Dimensional coordination, Dimensional preferences, System building, Industrialized building, etc.

Openness translates into a synergy for collaborative working. Open systems have mass and energy transition across the edges, such as water pond, building or earth’s atmosphere. Closed systems are like the balloon, little transfer for mass, exchange energy across the border. A system is called an isolated or insulated system when it is not dependent on exchange of mass or energy. Some take the classification further, meaning, a self-sufficient system is one, which subsists on its own enthalpy.

Open ended System > Richard and Goddard Buildings Uni of Pennsylvania campus by Louis Kahn (1957-61)

Open-ended Systems : In open-ended systems, components designed or manufactured by different vendors are used. The success of such a system depends on the adaptation of measures, standards for materials and codes for procedures. Open-ended systems are wasteful because of the built in reserves or additional capacities. The built in capacities in the open-ended systems do facilitate future replacements, improvisations and up-gradations. Open-ended systems generally result from mature and multi trial endeavours. Where large number of people are involved in design and execution and where these processes are likely to take place in different time spans, the system automatically becomes open ended. Open-ended systems are also called ‘open architecture entities’.

The Parthenon -acropolis Greece > a closed ended system > Flickr image by Sam valadi

Closed-ended Systems : In a closed ended system the components are not interchangeable or replaceable. Components designed for a particular situation are neither usable nor adoptable in another situation. Closed systems are very wholesome or compact compared with open systems. Later usually have a skeletons types frames structures (infrastructure) and are loosely held. Closed systems are rigid and not easily improvisable, whereas open systems allow up-gradation. Closed ended system being compact, have no redundancy. Closed ended system become totally useless with even minor changes in their environment or working. Close ended systems generally result from first ever (prime) or unique creative effort. Spontaneous and one man creation tends to be closed system, unless a conscious effort is made to make it an open system. Closed-ended systems are also called ‘proprietary systems’.




HUMAN RESOURCES -18 : Design Implementation Processes

Post 24 -by Gautam Shah


Personnel in an Organization : Personnel are the most important asset for any organization. Organizations hire people with required education, skill, experience, inclination and personality trait. Personnel as Human resource are not only immensely manipulable, but up-gradable to seemingly infinite levels of efficiency. And so organizations recognize, support and even reformat these qualities through formal training and by providing opportunistic exposures.

Foreign domestic workers queuing for contract renewals at Wan Chai Hong Kong > Wikipedia image by Ohconfucius

Employment : Employee and Employer enter into a contractual relationship wherein compensation is offered for the type of services to be rendered. At a very basic level the performance of an employee relates to the profitability of the organization. This is more so in Design organizations where human resources are very important assets, unlike in manufacturing units where productivity of machines and raw material costs have greater significance.

Process of Employment > Wikipedia image by arvind grover from New York city USA

Process of Employment : Employment is a process of mutual choice or selection: Employer chooses the employee to engage, and the Employee selects the employer to work with. The extent of choice and the power to make it, are rarely equal. All democratic Governments’ laws, however have a basic tenet that employer and employee have equal choice. In reality, however, inequalities occur due to discriminations of sex, race, region of origin, age, language, social status, etc. Some of the discriminations though scientifically supportable are not tenable in normal law. Our constitution (Indian), overrides, provides, dictates or recognizes ‘reservations in employment’ for specified classes of people, to eliminate and correct certain historical effects.

Employees working on Calutrons (used for refining uranium ore into fissile material) as operators were unaware as to what they were doing > Wikipedia image

Selection for Employment : Hiring an employee is both a process of Selection and Elimination. The process is so subtly carried out that often applicants do not become aware of it. The Selection is based on

  1. Objective requirements (intellectual) Skill, experience, training, work related abilities.
  2. Subjective requirements Personality traits, initiative, speed of reaction, temperament, memory, power of reasoning.
  3. Physical requirements Age, height, muscle power, health history, abnormality of body limbs and sense-abilities
  4. Other requirements Past record, references, readiness to accept the terms of employment.

Performance of an Employee : The employment is an evolving process, where the employer and employee both try to prove themselves worthy of their roles. These performance appraisals must not only occur at regular intervals, but sometimes as a surprise too. Once a person is employed, the management body of the organization continuously monitors the performance. Performance of an employee is a product of many factors such as individual ability, personality traits, input effort, sincerity, perception of the role, motivating factors, etc. Yet, performance can be conditioned as the enhanced capacity to deal with more complex or new problems, share of responsibility, greater authority, etc.

Employees working in Starbucks, at Taj Hotel, Bombay > Wikipedia image by HAO XING

Perception of Performance : An Employer sees performance as a tool for future efficiency to be gained at a specific cost, whereas the Employee perceives performance as immediate compensation, personal fulfillment, future promotion and skill gain. An employee can be motivated with additional advantage, comfort, increased learning, or even enhanced motivation. The original conditions of employing a person such as the technological relevance, equipments, nature of projects, economics of resources deployment, personal efficiencies, work-culture, change with passage of time.

Job discharge is an eventuality all employees have to be prepared for > Wikipedia image by TriviaKing (talk)DWS

Job Discharge or Termination : Job discharge or termination, has two facets: ONE the employee wishes to cease working with the employer, or TWO the employer desires to terminate the employee.

Employee’s perception could be: insufficient motivation, unsatisfactory compensation, lack of promotion, any other personal (psychological or physical) reasons, or better prospects elsewhere.

Employer’s perception could be: inability to reset with the changed circumstances, lethargy of advancing age, technological irrelevance of the skill, lack of experience, unviable pay-structure, lack of scope for promotion, unacceptable social behaviour, or resistance to relocate at a new location.

Timely job change or termination ? > Wikipedia image

Employee’s Options for Job change : Employee’s options are two fold: Change of employer or renegotiation of terms of employment. In the later case, age of the employee is an important criteria. A person comparatively young in age must move around seeking various jobs to experience the mechanics of employment. A person not so young, will have to select between reduced appreciation of the role and security of reasonable compensation, or enhanced appreciation and uncertain compensation.

Renegotiating terms of Employment > Wikipedia ART by Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914)

Employer’s Options for Employee’s Discharge or Termination : When an employer wishes to remove an employee, there are many legal hurdles, some are convertible into monetary terms. Instead of wasting efforts to surmount such hurdles, employers try to assign different roles, retrain, relocate, assign different tasks, provide punishments, curtail other advantages, to their employees. When, an employee leaves, the organization loses an asset, accumulated mass of knowledge and experience, personalized contacts, a person with proven mode of communication, secrets, patent procedures and formulas etc. Organizations are nominally unwilling to let a reasonably seasoned employee quit.

Hire, Fire and Retrain the Personnel : Small organizations, Whenever circumstances (projects on hand) change, prefer to fire an employee and hire new talent. Larger organizations have greater capacity to recast the role of employee, so would retrain the employee with different exposures.

Group discussions within employees for common strategy > Flickr image by Kennisland 

Realities of Re-employment : For a person who seeks a fresh position, it is time to take advantage of the real and abstract gains of the past, such as experience, personal contacts, specialized knowledge etc. These can now be converted into materialistic things. Such a plan, however, is related to the age of the employee. Re-employment chances begin to tapper off beyond a certain level of age,. An aged person, though well experienced, has reduced learning capability, reduced reorientation faculties, less motivation, less migration capacity and willingness for re-establishment. An aged person may have out-dated knowledge base. An organization looking for consolidation of their business may promote a person from within their cadre, rather then hire someone, who will takes time to attune to their work-style.

Employed Designers under the age of 30 : Designers under 30 years of age have many positive operants in their favour, like: Fresh technological background, some experience, highest mobility or capacity to settle at any geographical location, capacity to work under most difficult conditions, and highest learning abilities. These qualities are very appreciated by all employers, and so desire to hire people either as a complete fresher or with less than 30 years of age (i.e. with 5/6 years of experience).

■ Employed Designers in the age segment of 30-35 : Ideal age for job change is less than 32 years, and designers in the age segment of 30-35 should have changed the job, or do so as early as possible. Alternatively renegotiate the terms of employment and move to higher position like partnership or associateship. This is also perfect age to start own design venture. At these age a person is ready to relocate, take a challenging position, is highly motivated and has reasonably good knowledge base.

■ Designers in the age segment of 35-40 : This is an age segment, when a designer is mature with sufficient work experience, personal contacts, and specialized knowledge, but also begin to have Negative operants like: reduced learning capability, lesser reorientation faculties, less motivation, less migration and reestablishment willingness. It is the last opportunity for seeking change in employment.

■ Designers in the age segment of 40-45 : In this age segment chances of re-employment taper off drastically. Only way a designer can hope to shift the position is by joining another organization as partner, senior associate or a free-lancer. Such opportunities, though are very few, and would demand persons with outstanding competence and capacity to contribute.



DECISION MAKING and PROBLEM SOLVING -22 :Design Implementation Processes

Post 23 -by Gautam Shah


Decision Making for Projects : Project management involves Decision Making. Decisions are taken on factors that are essentially part of the project itself, and also on various presumptions, which may or may not become part of the project. In the first case the decisions are made on factors that are internal, through a process of selection, confirmation, elimination, etc. While in the later case, the decisions are made from external factors, where, not only the relevance, but the entire range of their effects needs to be forecast.

Problem Solving > Campus party Berlin Europe > Flickr image >

When are Decisions taken? Decisions are primarily taken when an action is required or when further decisions are due. Decisions are taken at: conscious level (intellectual) and subconscious level (intuitive). Decision making helps a designer with an analytical base to affirm a belief (intuitive or ‘gut-feeling’), and select a course of action from several nearly equal alternative possibilities.

How are Decisions taken?

Decisions are taken through:

  • Analysis:     Dissecting a whole into parts so to understand it better.
  • Synthesis:   Combining several things to form a whole to see if it is pertinent.
  • Holism:        Conceptualizing the whole thing.
For decision making it may be necessary to prioritize the information > Wikipedia Flickr image : Information overload by Jorge Franganillo

Quality of Decision : The Quality of Decision is governed by the decision makers’ state such as: physiological fitness, mental alertness, personality traits (daring, fear), information, training, experiences, opportunities, time, resources (human, equipment, finance, circumstances), etc. A decision is a subjective process that offers the best course for a given situation,

Efficiency of a decision is judged, on what it accomplishes. A reasonable decision always takes one closer to the goal, however, slightly. Decisions do not have mathematical sharpness or uniqueness. There is never a perfect decision. There usually are many different ways of achieving the same goal. A decision is the best course for a given situation, and the context within which it occurs are important clues of the process. Decision makers are fully aware of the process, and invariably have the capacity to improvise or correct the situation as decisions actualize. The course corrections are required because original conditions change by the time actualization occurs.

Decision makers ask questions like :

  • Is the objective defined ?
  • Is sufficient information available ?
  • How many options are available ?
  • Have these options been evaluated ?
  • Are all risks identified and provided for ?
  • Does this decision feel right, now that actions are being taken on it ?

Decision making comprises of :

1 Forecasting the most opportunity moment and the most obvious conditions, for consequences to occur or even not to occur.

2 Determination of probabilities of occurrence or follow up actions.

Decision making and consequences thereof (actions or further decisions) are often so interlaced that it is not possible to view them separately.

Problem Solving

Problem Solving : Decision making involves some degree of problem solving. Alternatively it can be said that problem solving itself is a decision making process. In decision making some intuitive and alogical processes are operative, but problem solving occurs in a more realistic situation. Problem solving can be defined as an exercise of observing situations, vis a vis change causing elements.

For solving a problem its subsections are recognized by identifying their dependencies > Wikipedia image : Decentralization.jpg by Adam Aladdin / Author Kes47 (?)

Solving a Problem : For solving a problem, it is necessary to, severe all the connections and dependencies, and deals with it as a unique entity or separate event. Problem solving leads to a solution or a course of action which may require solving new problems. Problem solving includes steps like: Defining the problem, searching and evaluating the alternatives and Implementing the solution. Problem solving is finding when products or processes may fail, and preparing for a preventive action.

‘Each problem that I solved became a rule, which served afterwards to solve other problems’ -Rene Descartes

Types of Problems

Mysteries : A mystery is an unexplained deviation from what is expected. It is necessary to understand as to what is a deviation (size, scale, measure, range etc.) and what forms a standard condition. A deviation is not necessarily a bad or foul thing, it may be an advantage or even a gain. Efforts should be directed in finding out, what has caused the deviation. Mysterious problems get tackled as soon as the deviation causing elements are identified.

Assignments : These are enforced exercises, or problems handed out as part of work or duty. An assignment is like a contract, where in goals or tasks must be properly defined, resources allocated, and delivery standards identified. Assignments deal with known things, but involve application of skill and management techniques. It may lack a creative effort but productivity and sincerity are important factors.

Maze at St. Louis botanical garden > Wikipedia image by Bachrach44

Difficulties : A difficulty occurs for two reasons, either, we do not know, how to manage a situation, or feel we lack the resources. Difficulties are subjective or objective. In the first case, the person has the capacity, but is unable to accomplish a task. In the second case, the person may not have the talent, know how, motivation, resources etc. Difficulties, if subjective require human resources, whereas objective ones need other physical inputs.

Difficult problems may get resolved with time, arrival of new technology but that is very costly as a process

Opportunities : Opportunities need to be perceived in the context of ‘time’ and as early as possible. There is a period of its manifestation, obsolescence or being irrelevant. Evaluation in terms of the potential benefit or loss leads to solution of a problem. Opportunities self presumed where a person or group perceives a condition as the problem, or situational offerings, where a larger environment (social, political, academic) seems worthy of a reassessment.

The Tower 18 (Lake-Wells) junction > Wikipedia image by Author R36

Puzzles : A Puzzle is a situation where one knows a correct solution exists, but sufficient efforts have not been made to discover it. Puzzles are of THREE types: soluble, currently insoluble and ever insoluble. Soluble puzzles can be tackled with current knowledge. Currently insoluble puzzles will be hopefully solved, when adequate resources and information are available. Puzzles, however, remain insoluble, when certain important sections are irretrievably lost. Puzzles have such inbuilt solution that in real sense, there is no need to solve any thing, but locate the solution and identify the ways to reach it. Puzzles are solved as soon as the end itself or the means to the end are in sight.

Chinese puzzle >

Dilemmas : Dilemmas offer two or more choices, each of which seems equally fitting. Dilemmas remain in-force only for a particular time span, situation or value judgment. When a dilemmatic situation is probed further, one of the solutions is likely to be just slightly more superior or less inferior. Dilemmas if handled by a different person, attended at another time, or dealt in another situation, may not be a problem at all.

Detective fiction character Parry Mason and Ms street solving puzzling problem

Problem Solving Strategies : Thesis, reports, and fictions have a strategic issue to be studied and postulated. The handling of the strategic issue reflects the methodologies of problem solving. Authors and fictional characters like Sherlock Homes, Agatha Christie, Perry Mason etc. raise and solve problems.

problem-solvingForecasting : Since the outcome of a decision is always in future, it needs to be forecast. For a better decision, one needs to forecast the inherent risks and consequences of all the competing alternatives. Forecasting involves determining the chances, frequency and intensity of occurrence or non occurrence of an action.


Most often a decision is valued on what it achieves, and how efficiently. However, when the quality of outcome or approximation to a goal with all the possible range of actions is nearly the same, one needs to bring in a value judgment.

Shuffle for averaging the possibilities > Wikipedia-Flickr image by Johnny Blood

Probability : Forecast-able situations are inherently probable. A human being cannot perceive a situation that is not probable. However, probabilities are either deterministic or in-deterministic.

Deterministic probability: A hill station is likely to be a cool place, because all our experiences have taught us that height and coolness of a place are correlated. Determinable probabilities have fewer operative factors, so chances of probability are much focussed.

Indeterminable probability: An oil well may spud oil, which however, may or may not occur. And, the oil, if it occurs may not have a commercially viable quantum. Such situations pose many uncertain factors.


22 DECISION MAKING and PROBLEM SOLVING -Design Implementation Processes –part of the lecture series DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES



Post 22 -by Gautam Shah


Proposed workshop-lecture on 15 OCT 2016, Saturday, Morn at 1000 Hours, for Post Graduate students of Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad, India.


Emerging technologies are innovations that represent competitive advantage, simultaneously in several fields. In the past we had eras defining phrases such as Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Steel Age which succinctly tell a story. Emergent technologies of modern eras are relevant on following counts:

1 Materials Technology of formations as geometries or structures.

2 Technologies of processing that reduce the movement of materials or equipments.

3 Design deployment methods to reduce time to manufacturing or processing including multi-tasking, automation, bionics and robotics.

4 Synergetic systems that lead to size compaction, energy usage and human involvement

5 Termination Processes for recycling and recovery management.

Since history of mankind basic drivers for innovations have been:-

  • Local and seasonal availability,
  • costs of acquisition or production,
  • transportation and warehousing logistics
  • efficiencies of mass versus weight,
  • strength from a mass,
  • calculated risk taking associated with new things

‘It is advantageous to move over to new technologies, then to waste time and effort in fine tuning the current ones’.

Emergent Technologies are operative as:

  1.        Miniaturization
  2.        Auto-regulated processing with feed forward mechanisms
  3.        Use of fuzzy logic for Multi lateral or functional operations
  4.        Convergent technologies
  5.       Quantum jumping
  6.        Systems thinking
  7.       Specificity and Localization
  8.       Generality and Universalization
  9.        Tools, Handling, Reach capacities
  10.      Cross over absorption of technologies

1 Miniaturization : It works primarily as mass versus weight factor resulting in energy versus benefit ratio. In buildings it results as a space saving and handling factor. In certain circumstances the loss of the second (width) and third (depth or height) dimension makes an entity of nearly zero mass (embedded transistors in a printed circuit, CCDs, metalized film, etc.).

2 Regulated processing : Regulated processing conditions the response time, and in many circumstances recovery time. These technologies were used in controlling the reverse action, bounce back or impact absorption, but are used in transfer systems such as elevators, walkways, conveyers, controls for gadgets, vibratory conditions, acoustics, climate control, etc. Regulated processing was once upon a time on simultaneous or synchronous movement control. One movement system (like a turning shaft) turned several sub systems through sprockets, gears and levers. This is now being changed with thyristor controls resulting in nearly no-movement devices.

3 Multi lateral or Multi functional operations : Multi functional processes have faster throughput, accurate and consistent output. Such plants save space, often operate in inclement environmental conditions, isolation, hazard prone situations and require no ergonomic considerations. Some of the known Multi Functional technologies are CNC machines, work stations, Robotics, Fewer components, Nonmoving or passive operations, Distributed and Localized control systems, Integrated feed forward and feed back systems.

4 Convergent technologies : We add on technologies to existing systems as these are realized or become viable. Here there is an inherent sequencing of processes or layering of applications. Convergent technologies combine several such time and space relevant technologies. The singular offering has efficiency of integrated working, fewer components, and a compact design. As this is conceived as a replacement for existing set, it obviously has a neat and self-sufficient form. Convergent technologies are deficient in the sense that the solution offered is local, specific and still only a component-relevant (yet a larger component replacing several small ones).

5 Quantum jumping : Quantum Jumping is often called a ‘disruptive technology’. It is a radical concept that replaces one or several technologies. A quantum jumping technology must become effective very fast. Wireless telephony or mobiles have made a substantial change

6 Systems thinking : Systems consist of elements, relationships and a structure or pattern. System thinking allows one to seamlessly transit from one to another type of system, and develop a common concept or an inclusive system. It is not a physical entity but helps in assimilating diverse technologies and orders.

7 Specificity and Localization : There is always a debate, should one be specific and locally relevant? By being so one saves on effort and redundancy of diversity. It saves on transport and negates the scope of communication. The former has turned costlier but the later has become faster, efficient, cheaper and multi mode. Specificity and localization have a tendency of creating closed ended systems or holistic architecture. The owner is omni present here and so there is a resistance to change such as alteration or enhancement. Most arts and crafts are intrinsically specific.

8 Generality and Universalization : These concepts develop when the creator, or producer is distanced in time and space from the user. These entities are designed as open ended systems for wider acceptability (markets-clientele) and longer relevance. Another cause for this is to create ‘windows’ or slots for upgrades and expansion. A pyramid is not an extendible form, a cylinder has limited scope for enhancement, but a cubical form has several sided options. A step further to this thinking is to create potential nodes where connections can occur as in case of space stations or Internet.

9 Tools, Handling, Reach capacities : Tools, handling systems and reach capacities have made it possible to deploy new designs. Last century some amazing tools like under water and argon welding, flexi drills, pneumatic tools and medical scopes. These capacities and Robots, Scopes, MMR, sonar and other imaging tools, Flex hand tools, pneumatic super speed tools, Spark erosion, Automation, control devices, Remote processing, material removal and mass building linked to 3D modelling.

10 Cross over absorption of technologies : Innovations in a field have more takers in other fields. Space travel innovations have been very extensively adopted in life sciences, fine chemicals and agriculture. Advances in Bio-sciences have inspired builders to design bio-metric architecture. Digital imaging, remote sensing and global positioning have collectively opened many new avenues of knowledge. Miniaturization has brought in drones, bugs, spiders are not just espionage tools but monitors for conditions inside the body, pipes, atomic reactors, mines and architectural models. These are some examples how different technologies overlap to generate a new entity, which in turn is employed in never conceived form. A technocrat needs to be aware of emergent technologies in other fields. Otherwise by the time these percolate to their own field, the developments outdate them.

 A list of Popular conception of emerging technologies (with far-reaching effects) covers many different of fields: Ref Washington Post

  • Non living structural materials with capacity to heal themselves when cut, torn or cracked
  • Photo-synthetic bacteria to turn waste CO2 into liquid fuels or chemicals
  • Superior osmosis or solar-thermal geothermal installations for efficient water purification of industrial waste and sea water
  • Molecular level design for enhanced nutrition
  • Precise drug delivery through nano scale engineering
  • Remote sensing personal health parameters
  • Organic electronics with printed using low-cost, scalable processes such as ink jet printing
  • Spent-fuel recycling technology for converting nuclear waste into reusable products
  • On Line Electric Vehicles (OLEV) delivering power in line
  • Wireless charging of devices like mobiles
  • Nano structured materials with tailored properties, designed and engineered at the molecular scale
  • Advances in areas such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics for nutrition, medicine and disease prevention tailored for every individual


Emergent Technologies on Door Step

  • .◦ Eye interface display systems◦ Mind Machine interactive systems
  • ◦ Self learning and correcting systems
  • ◦ Feed forward management systems
  • ◦ Multi cell -pixel image capture (compared with lens-focussing)
  • ◦ Fabrics with electro sensitive nodes
  • ◦ Electronic nose and enzyme-odour formatter
  • ◦ Neuron based multi nodal or distributed computing
  • ◦ Solar energy absorption modalities: concentrating heat energy or direct conversion to electric energy, Locations and forms for these to occur.
  • ◦ Speech recognition and Language translators
  • ◦ Command based language without semantics
  • ◦ Conductive polymers
  • ◦ High temperature conductivity (compared with very low temp technologies)
  • ◦ Unmanned micro vehicles for surveillance, observation and repair
  • ◦ Scopes and miniature sensing devices as Design aid
  • ◦ Atmospheric carbon scrubbers
  • ◦ Extra large Domes for cities
  • ◦ Large zero gravity production zones
  • ◦ Micro nutrient delivery systems
  • ◦ Magnetic refrigeration
  • ◦ Autonomic healing of polymer composites



Post 21 -by Gautam Shah


Beginning of ISO : In 1946, delegates from 25 countries met in London and decided to create an International Standards Organization, for coordinating and unifying industrial standards. The new organization, ISO, officially began operations on 23 February 1947, in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO is not an abbreviation (of International Standards Organization), but a word, derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever is the language, the accepted short form of the organization’s name is ISO.

First ISO meeting: In London, in 1946, 65 delegates from 25 countries met to discuss the future of International Standardization. In 1947, ISO officially came into existence with 67 committees of experts focussed on specific subjects. 

ISO was born after several efforts for developing a reasonable policy for International trade and transit. The first need, was to develop a worldwide policy for weights and measures. An international treaty (Metre Convention or Convention du Mètre, May 1875, France) was signed by 17 countries, to create a ‘permanent mechanism to recommend and adopt further refinements in the metric system’. The treaty occurred at the time of heightened Industrial activity during the Industrial Revolution period across Europe and USA. After this, a General Conference on weights and measures or Confèence gènvrale des poids et mesures CGPM was organized in 1889. Eight such CGPM, at rough intervals of four years, were held till 1933, followed by an inactive period due to world war II.

Soon after WW-II, hectic reconstruction activities began everywhere. Major impediments to this effort were the differing National Standards. To allow free flow of raw materials, equipments and technology a platform of common Standards and Specifications was required. In 1946, delegates from 25 countries met in London to create a new organization, to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards. The new organization, Organisation internationale de normalisation, ISO, officially began operations on 23 February 1947, in Geneva, Switzerland.

ISO first Head Quarter

ISO and International Cooperation : ISO is a voluntary, democratic and non governmental organization for international cooperation. It is now a Network of National Standards’ Institutes of 162 countries of the world. It is formed on the basis of one member per country. Some of the participants, delegated by their governments, are the most representative body for Standardization effort in their country. ISO is a non governmental organization and so cannot regulate or legislate. It has no legal authority to enforce its standards. It evolves standards by consensus. Every participating member, irrespective of strength of its political prestige or size of its economy, can influence the formation of standards. Some Standards, through bilateral and multi lateral agreements, have become an inevitable International Trading Requirement and important criteria for aid, loans, grants, etc.

ISO Head Quarter at La Voie Creuse, Geneva

ISO Work : ISO began its work with specifications for writing and coordinating measures. Subsequently ISO began to evolve International Standards for Products, Services, Processes, etc. These were derived as a consensus based on many national standards. The standards are upgraded and redefined every five years, and sometimes more frequently. Yet, to serve the user better, many individuals and organizations outperform the standards.

ISO standards are developed by Technical Groups or Committees (+3000) that comprise experts (+50000), from industrial, technical and business sectors that follow these standards. In addition, these committees also include representatives of government agencies, testing laboratories, consumer associations, non-governmental organizations and academic circles. The ISO has published more than 15000 International Standards.


Formation of Standards at ISO : When a Government, Industry or Business identifies a need for standard, the requirements are conveyed through one of the ISO’s National members, one of the three General Policy Development Committees. (Such as: CASCO -for conformity assessment, COPOLCO -for consumer policy, or DEVCO -for developing country matters). The new proposal, if accepted, is assigned to a technical committee of experts and others with relevant knowledge, such as representatives of government agencies, consumer organizations, academia and testing laboratories. The technical committees form a Draft Agreement, which is circulated as a Draft International Standard (DIS) to all ISO’s members, for comments and voting. The feedback generates Final Draft International Standard (FDIS), which on approval is published as the International Standard (IS).


The process of approval is a time-consuming action so ISO allows intermediate stage publications before a full consensus: 1 Publicly Available Specification (PAS), 2 Technical Specifications (TS), 3 Technical Report (TR), 4 International Workshop Agreement (IWA).

Other Activities of ISO : ISO also helps for an International Consensus on Terminology to make the transfer of technology, declarations, negotiations and communications. ISO formulates requirements for Conformity Assessments to assess materials, products, systems and services for the Level of Compliance to relevant standards before these can be put on markets. ISO offers agreements on Standard Test Procedures for evaluation of products. ISO does not carry out the conformity assessment, but has developed systems and norms as to how Conformity Assessing Organizations operate.

ISO Consumer workshop > ISO committee on Consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO) workshop in Malta

ISO, Governments and Consumers : ISO has emerged as coordinating and consensus making organization among divergent national or regional standards to ease out the technical barriers to international trade. Similarly ISO helps Governments in health, safety and environment, related issues. ISO standards affect the consumers for air, water, food, and soil quality, emissions of gases and radiation through assurance of quality, safety, reliability, wide choice, and worldwide compatibility of technologies.