Naval Architecture

Designing a ship is a complex, dynamic task, which must be undertaken with precise, systematic professionalism. It carries a high level of responsibility because people can die if mistakes are made. Before a ship can be built, it must be designed so that we know exactly what the outcome will be. At the end of the process, a new ship in service signifies an achieved solution to a complex problem. Then I do it all again, and better, for the next ship. This is basic Naval Architecture. I enjoy Mondays.

This pragmatic design system can be applied to many dynamic, compound problems or complex challenges – even as complex as designing and building a great, sustainable world-future – and a workable solution found. As a naval architect my basic approach here is design thinking.

The areas of expertise needed to resolve every challenge cannot be encompassed by any one person – just like ship design. Much of my Naval Architectural work is therefore to organise the many different specialists, contractors and suppliers who have the specialist skills required to build, assemble and install the many intricate ship components. The art is not necessarily in knowing how to construct or calculate everything myself, but in understanding enough to be able to describe and specify what kind of structures or systems are needed, and to engage the appropriate specialists to make it all happen. That is standard ship design and shipbuilding practice.

So for constructing our awesome future, I identify the tasks that require specialised expertise and present outline guidance for each such task – a prototype idea, so that a specialist can step up and say, ‘I know how to do that!’

Our quest involves so many disciplines that we must avoid getting bogged down in the depth and detail of any single component. Our focus is a Macro System design, to connect all the pertinent elements together so that we adequately encompass the breadth of the challenge. This has not been effectively done before. Each element has enough depth in itself to distract focus away from the process as a whole. The only areas where we go into any depth are where we can take effective steps immediately, and where we investigate new solutions to old problems – thinking laterally to get past obstinate barriers.

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