Bigger Pictures for Innovation

Creating Solutions, Managing Enterprises, and Influencing Policies

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Grand stories on learning and innovation at the crossroads of serendipity.

  • Katy Borner, PhD, Victor H. Yngve Professor of Engineering & Information Science, Indiana University at Bloomington

If you seek to learn from a master, then Bill Rouse is your dream teacher. He is a renaissance person who combines deep technical skills in mathematical modeling analysis of complex human-run systems with comparable knowledge of broad system context — with all its complexities and nuances. His book marches through his life experiences, providing lessons learned — with his many successes and a few misses. His life adventures demonstrate vividly how one should embrace taking risks, delving deeply into new and complex new problem areas, even when having no previous experience on those problems. The structured analytical approach leads to innovative solutions.

  • Richard C. Larson, PhD, Mitsui Professor of Data, Systems, and Society, MIT

Wise and technically sophisticated, practical and insightful, and based on an overwhelming amount of personal research and practical implementation, Bill Rouse has provided us with a 50-year perspective on problem solving using both advanced mathematical modeling and careful attention to human needs, aspirations, and requirements. For those interested in dysfunction, crises, and subsequent change for the better, Rouse’s models, analysis, and extensive examples offer a primer for process, analysis, and action, emphasizing always the imperative to understand the who, what, how, and why of every challenge or opportunity. His deep personal and successful engagement in multiple initiatives, enterprises, and consultancies has given Rouse a unique perspective, and his multiple publications testify to the impact of these experiences. Numerous real-world cases provide the opportunity for this development of a complex, if fundamental, set of guidelines for addressing the challenges of private, public, and systemic enterprises. This book is required reading for those who want to understand the system imperatives for enhanced performance both now and in the future.

  • John V. Lombardi, PhD, President Emeritus, University of Florida

A technical page-turner, probably the only engineering book that you will read cover to cover. With this professional memoir, Bill Rouse weaves intriguing, personal and professional history - as vital context - into 'how and why' so many of his multitudes of projects progressed so successfully from concept to full strategic adoption. The "play-by-play" project descriptions, illuminated with fascinating "color commentary" provide hard-earned project management insight in a literary fashion that even non-scientists will breeze through, feeling one "I’ll be darn" after another.

  • Dennis K. McBride, PhD, President Emeritus, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

Few people are as well-equipped as Bill Rouse to write such a remarkable compendium, not only of innovations today, buy of how we got there and where we might be going in the future. His vast personal experience in multiple areas and his mastery of systems analysis allowed him to provide a global vision of evolution of technologies and societies and to link such diverse domains as technologies, business, medicine, and human behaviors. This vast perspective allows him to capture the enormous transformations of societies and the future possibilities. Indeed, this is a unique book that should enrich social perspectives, and support key decisions about policies made today, that will affect our future and that of our children.

  • Elisabeth Pate-Cornell, PhD, Burt and Deedee McMurtry Professor, Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University

An insightful presentation on how to derive impactful contributions to society, organizations and individuals based on the distinguished scholarly and practical experience of the author.

  • Gavriel Salvendy, PhD, University Distinguished Professor, University of Central Florida, Founding President, Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine of Florida.

Bill Rouse is a system modeler par excellence. He has provided us with a review of his professional career combined with a description of his modeling achievements in multiple domains, ranging from human-interaction with low level systems, business and government enterprises, and large-scale societal systems such as health care. In each case he has provided the reader with valuable insights in defining the problems, dealing with stakeholders, developing analyses and recommendations, and modeling philosophy in general.

  • Thomas B. Sheridan, PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Psychology Emeritus, MIT

Bill Rouse applies an engineer modeler’s questions and tools to help stakeholders identify intrinsic and extrinsic factors that will determine the outcomes of their decisions. This extraordinary book combines a warm personal story of his professional evolution with memorable case examples and pithy lessons. His insights bridge the disciplines of human-centered design, economics, sociology and policy; and span sectors of health care, education, energy and security. It is a must read for anyone interested in tackling large scale change, whether at the level of an enterprise or society.

  • William W. Stead, MD, McKesson Foundation Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine, Chief Strategy Officer (ret), Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Thanks to my friendship with Professor Rouse, I have heard numerous snippets of what is in this book over countless lunches and dinners – however, for the first time, this book provides a complete story and context of his evolution from a kid in Rhode Island to a doctoral student at MIT, and then an academic leader at some of the top universities in the US and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Furthermore, while many may share a variation on his life story – tinkering with toys, tools, and cars, and then evolving into a stellar career in engineering – very few take the time to provide an easily accessible narrative along with priceless insights and reflections. This book is a joy to read, and I believe would be an inspirational guide to many middle and high school kids. This should be on the reading list of all school counselors and parents. I enjoyed reading this!

  • Dinesh Verma, Ph.D., Professor, School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE), Executive Director, Systems Engineering Research Center, Executive Director, Acquisition Innovation Research Center