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February 22, 2013

National Engineers Week: A Q & A with Tyson Browning

Posted by: Dave Ryman

Our second interview for National Engineers Week is with Tyson Browning co-author with Steven Eppinger of Design Structure Matrix Methods and Applications. Tyson Browning is an Associate Professor of Operations Management at Texas Christian University.


What drew you to learning more about Design Structure Matrix? How did you get involved? 

I was a graduate student at MIT in the early 1990s, looking for methods to help model, visualize, analyze, and manage complex situations—initially, complex organizations developing complex aerospace systems.  The DSM was immediately appealing and useful, so I started looking for more information about it.  I quickly came across the work of Prof. Steven Eppinger and some of his graduate students.  Later he became my Ph.D. advisor.

What other areas do you see Design Structure Matrix being utilized in? Why do you think it will be effective there?

The possibilities are immense.  Any and all kinds of complex systems could be modeled with DSM.  DSM is most effective when the system’s behavior depends on complex patterns in the architecture that the DSM can help illuminate and manage.

How do Design Structure Matrix models make companies more successful? Do models increase efficiency and productivity and, if so, in what way?

Companies have to manage complex projects comprised of many elements (components of the desired results, requirements and objectives, activities in the process, people and teams in the organization, and tools and other resources), all of which must work well together as a system to provide efficient and effective performance.  There are usually big opportunities to improve the composition of these elements and the nature of their interactions.  The DSM can help to identify a few high leverage points in these complex systems—the “needles in the haystack.”

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