Fix Systems Engineering!

Updated: Jun 30

A: Product-Driven Information Systems

The car in your driveway has 20,000 components, and the plane on the tarmac has a million. The development of modern products begins with thousands or millions of requirements, all of which must be managed through the stages of the product lifecycle.


This lecture briefly discusses early-stage requirements management using the Vee-model, SysML, and RFLP, as well as later-stage information structures known as Digital Twins and Threads.


Here are some links to technology vendors videos on some of the topics (under 4 min). I don't promote any one over another, but they provide some context.

B: 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
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C: 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

  • Complexity Beyond Imagination


Decomposition Leads to Dysfunction




D: Other Thinkers on Systems Complexity

Additional perspectives can be found at the Complex Aerospace Systems Exchange, including

  • Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Complex Systems

  • A Complexity Primer for Systems Engineers

  • Interactions Among Components in Complex Systems

  • Mastering Complexity Aerospace America Nov 2015

  • A Leader's Framework for Decision Making


E: Scrum

This lecture briefly discusses other project management techniques as a lead-in to Scrum, and then posits that its true value is as a means to encourage Collective Learning.


Mike Griffin Video

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