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My LinkedIn Newsletter:
MPL for Sustainability

I am fortunate to speak on podcasts, Zoom interviews, and virtual conferences and thought that I would follow-up with longer form essays. 


The point to the newsletter is two-fold:

To PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), I am adding the acronym MPL (Managing Product Lifecycles). The former is about engineering technology, while the latter is about how customers use those products, and how that use impacts society and the planet. PLM and MPL need each other but are different things. For example, PLM technology will not help you to realize that you are bringing the wrong product to market.

And is what we’re doing sustainable? Was the industrial revolution (beginning with 1.0) ever sustainable? This is not just about “greening” our current products and services, but also about imagining new means of creating societal value, and the impacts of change on society as we know it today.

I try to publish a new article about once per month. 

A Bat Sneezed and the Economy Collapsed

Idea in Brief:
(Soon to be published in an upcoming issue of the Complex Aerospace Systems Exchange)


  • The second industrial revolution (Mass, Lean, and "Bottom-Lines") created unprecedented growth in humanity a century ago, but this growth has reached limits, and creates a global systemic risk.

  • The human population footprint expanded into the former wilderness, where viral reservoirs thrive in rodents, birds, and bats. COVID-19 is the fifth pandemic of the 21st century, and we can expect more to follow.

  • Societal growth now requires new technologies and new management theory, as envisioned in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Supply chains must be local, visible, automated, and digital. And economic metrics must balance People and the Planet, as well as Prosperity.

For Better Products, We Need Better Cultures

Idea in Brief:

  • When products result in scandals, an immediate response is to find a bad-actor to be blamed, but this fails to recognize how bad actions are the result of cultural dysfunction. 

  • Products are developed based on requirements, the completion of which are decomposed across many groups (for example, the Systems Engineering "Vee-model"). It is this decomposition which creates dysfunction and leads to scandal.

  • This article details how the decomposition approach led to the General Motors ignition switch recall. It further discusses how the legal team which investigated the scandal reinforced the “bad-actor” fallacy, and it provides a counter-narrative to the legal report. 

Complexity Beyond Imagination

Idea in Brief:

  • Modern products are increasingly intelligent, and their development increasingly complex. Such complexity is managed through documented requirements, but these are decomposed and assigned to subgroups, eventually leading to a lack of product clarity and organizational dysfunction.

  • The Systems Engineering methods used to manage complexity are not up to the challenge, and we need Systems Thinking. Product Lifecycles are more complex than we can imagine, and we need to reduce, rather than manage, complexity.

  • This paper investigates how complexity and dysfunction led to two crashes and the eventual grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft and notes similarities in the case of the GM Ignition Switch Recall

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