The beginning of any creative activity always involves the generation of ideas. New concepts are created as the creator begins to fill out the solution to a problem or the thing being created. This is true whether the object of the creative process is a painting or a tree house, a novel or a system solution. The artist or writer or engineer always begins with the seed of an idea and expands it into a fully-realized object.
This is true of groups as well as individuals. In fact, the collaborative creative process may actually depend even more heavily on idea generation in order to reach a shared vision for the creative product. Synergies emerge through the idea generation process to become realized products of collaborative thought.
A critical piece of the idea generation phase is the means to make those ideas tangible. Everyone does this by first creating a mental model of what is being created. That model must then one way or another find its way to a tangible form in order to be efficiently developed. That is the source of sketches and drafts, of storyboards and scripts – all of which memorialize ideas so that they are not lost and can be built out into bigger, better ideas.
With groups, these tangible artifacts are even more important because they align the thinking of the collaborators. They help create a common pool of meaning and minimize misunderstanding.[more]
As important as these artifacts are, they must be easy to create. The creators will typically start slowly with one idea and then another. But soon the ideas will begin to flow as each one plays off the one before. If the process of making them tangible encumbers the generation of the ideas, the creative act will lose steam and be impaired.
The tool should not Obstruct!
When we use a tool to generate the creative artifacts – in the case of systems engineering, the model – we should be able to do so quickly without stalling the process. The tool should not obstruct the process.
CORE 9 is just such a tool. The creators’ ideas about system function and structure can be captured directly into the graphical interface. Elements of the system design can be created and arranged using an intuitive drag and drop, cut and paste interface. Relationships can be created by dragging one element onto another and a Model Assistant is there to suggest the possible relationships that can be created. Instead of stopping to analyze, you can choose from the list and move on – your design progress unimpeded. The design takes shape rapidly, appearing as quickly as you can envision it.
Usually the ability to design as quickly as you can sketch it out (or, as we like to call it, operating at think speed) comes at a price. The sketches are disjoint and use only the information placed directly into them. Like an artist’s sketchbook they are discrete and unrelated – independent pictures of the design.
Not so with CORE. As the designer “draws” in the interface, CORE captures the meaning behind the drawing. Elements are related. Inputs and outputs are hooked to their sources and targets. This is preserved in the database repository and NOT just in the diagram. That means that other representations that report the same information, or some subset of it, can be automatically generated with the click of a mouse. For example, if a group of designers works on constructing an activity diagram, one need only to click on the applicable tabs to see a hierarchy or sequence diagram.
CORE 9 combines the ease of use of a drawing tool with the sheer power of a fully-featured database engine to allow designers to engage the flow of their thought processes in real time with the assurance that their ideas are being preserved and incorporated into a robust design with real integrity. Thanks to CORE, they can operate at think speed and still harvest the fruits of a careful and complete design.