Many people maintain that cultural barriers are the biggest challenge to overcome in mov-ing to an SBA process. These challenges include acceptance of M& S, not believing everything seen, working as teams in a distributed environment, and becoming proactive in determining an affordable design.
Acceptance of the results of M& S is probably the
single biggest challenge, as it involves a significant change in the way DoD
does business. There is a natural resistance to changing the old ways if they
appear to be working. There is significant resistance to believing in virtual
prototypes, as people are more apt to believe one physical test versus
thousands of virtual tests. For example, the technology for simulating the
crashworthiness of a vehicle far outpaces the acceptance of the results, to
the point where their accuracy is better than the variability between
different physical crashes.1 However, despite this capability, all automobile manufacturers continue to conduct expensive crash tests (albeit they are conducting much fewer tests than in the past). A culture change is required to view computer modeling as analogous to physical modeling. Even so, acceptance of M&S is occurring at an increasing rate as M&S is successfully implemented. The engineers frequently resist using M&S at first, but soon discover that it can be a very valuable design tool, and that they often do not need hardware to find problems.
An important corollary to this acceptance problem is
to "not believe everything you see." Simulations create compelling visual
arguments that can drive complacency in questioning the underlying models. The
mere fact that something can be modeled and simulated does not mean that it
can be built. A rigorous process of verifying, validating, and accrediting
(VV&A) models and simulations for their intended purpose can counteract
this problem, and can increase the level of confidence that the models and
simulations are representative of what was intended and accurately represent
Another cultural challenge is learning how to work as teams in distributed environments. Western culture and training places an emphasis on individual performance, but systems are designed and built by teams. An SBA process can accentuate this long-standing problem because even more emphasis is placed on working together as a team, and the teams may change frequently and not be co-located. Many companies are experimenting with ways to create just-in-time teams and reward team performance.
A final cultural challenge is learning to become proactive in designing an affordable system. This involves continually refining the requirements with the user to find the optimum mix of performance and affordability, and looking at the costs across the entire life of the system. The range of options to explore can be intimidating, and the tendency will be to move on with a design that appears good enough, rather than continuing to explore design options to reduce the TOC of the system.