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Fix Systems Engineering!

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

Fix Systems Engineering! (by Pat Hillberg)

Decomposing problems into small manageable pieces inevitably leads to dysfunction, which in turn leads to either scandalous products, or a failure to innovate. Our Systems Engineering tools are not capable of modeling the economic and cultural aspects of the organizations responsible for the products -- we need Systems Thinking.

In class, and at a minimum, a Systems Thinking conversation must make reference to Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Shared Vision, Team Learning, and Reinforcing and Balancing Feedback loops, as described in Peter Senge's book The Fifth Discipline. Systems Engineering should not be confused with Systems Thinking.

Also see these articles in My-Writing:

  • For Better Products, We Need Better Cultures (on the GM Ignition Switch recall)

  • Complexity Beyond Imagination (on the Boeing 737 Max Groundings)

Decomposition Leads to Dysfunction

How do we fix Systems Engineering? (by Mike Griffin)

Dr. Michael Griffin was Nasa administrator, Undersecretary of Defense in Research in Engineering, and had a long history in the US Space program. The following is from a speech given in 2010 and is assigned reading for the course. A video of Dr. Griffin's speech is below.

How Do We Fix System Engineering
Download PDF • 115KB

In the following video (optional for the course) Griffin gives this as a talk at the Stevens Institute of Technology. (It runs a little under an hour.)

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