The purpose of the Systems Engineering Transformation Caucus is to integrate emerging innovations in professional practice with the existing body of Systems Engineering practice. The consensus in the caucus is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ systems engineering. Hence, as we move forward, a key value creation strategy for Systems Engineers is to develop project structures that are appropriate to the circumstances for individual projects. This need motivated the development of an architecture for a Transformational Systems Engineering Environment. Now that the overall architecture has been established, we are:
- Generating mini-projects that create plug and play capabilities that can be employed to create project structures using the new environment.
- Spreading the Transformational Systems Engineering (TSE) message.
There are a number of issues that are influencing our choice of TSE projects beginning at this time. Highlighted issues include:
• Emergent Behavior - Exploiting innovative emergent practices and managing negative aspects of emergence is a crucial issue as engineered systems become more complex. Differing practices, such as TSE, Classical SE, Agile Engineering, MBSE, Systems of Systems Engineering (SoSE), and Design Thinking apply differing strategies for managing emergent behavior and controlling projects. These differing practices are applicable in differing situations. One of the objectives of the Situation Analysis Project is to develop techniques to assess complexity and potential emergent behavior in a project environment. Such techniques are needed to inform sound decisions regarding project structure. Current members of this project include Dean White, Dorothy McKinney, Nirmal Iyengar, George Sawyer, and Lee Amon.
• Interfaces - Interfaces are crucial to facilitating integration and agility within the TSE environment. A “plug and play” environment requires a sound architecture and sound interfaces. George Sawyer, Carol Graham and Scott Workinger are working on TSE interfaces. In a very real sense, our TSE integration environment will create value through connectivity. That means good interfaces. Quoting Eberhardt Rechtin, "The greatest leverage in architecting is at the interfaces."
• Collaboration - Development environments are inherently collaborative. Also, the caucus, itself, is a collaborative body with significant collaboration needs. We are taking action to address these needs and we will be following up with other collaboration support efforts. One of our challenges in the caucus is facilitating collaboration among geographically dispersed team members that are working hard at their ‘day jobs.’ In the caucus is that we get small slices of contributors’ time. Under these circumstances, it is difficult, if not impossible, to regularly get everyone's time allocated, simultaneously. So, we need a way to make our task structure visible to all of us and to coordinate asynchronously. This is a problem that we share with many organizations. A Kanban Board is a powerful tool that that Agile Teams use for this purpose. Amanda Foo has been leading the Kanban Board effort. It is said, in Silicon Valley, “Eat your own dog food.” Essentially, if something is recommended to others, then the recommending organization should be willing to use it. We believe this. Such efforts are also an opportunity to grapple with the details of useful practices and work through potential rough spots.
• Flow and Group Flow – Individuals in flow are highly productive and highly creative. Group Flow has been observed on Agile and Design Thinking project teams. Sustaining a project team in Flow is like splitting the atom. We are happy to welcome our New Mexico colleagues Steve Kropp and Cindi Reyes to the Group Flow Project Team. Welcome to the caucus! We look forward to working with you.
We have also begun to share our message with interested individuals both inside and outside INCOSE:
- Scott Workinger presented a talk describing the issues and opportunities of Transformational Systems Engineering at the INCOSE International Workshop held in Los Angeles in January.
- Scott gave a lunchtime presentation on TSE at Lockheed Martin in March. Over 70 engineers participated.
- Scott taught an introductory course on TSE for the INCOSE Enchantment Chapter (Albuquerque, NM) in March. The course was well attended and highly rated by the students.
- Hillary Sillito, a caucus member living in Britain presented TSE opportunities as part of a presentation at a conference of The Design Society, held in Berlin, Germany in March.
- Dean White will be presenting TSE opportunities at the Naval Postgraduate School in April.
As we move forward, we are seeing more and more ways that Transformational Systems Engineering can contribute unique value to engineering organizations. One of our leading caucus members recently described some of the unique value to him from his engagement in the caucus. He explained that engaging in the caucus caused him to rethink the method of applying requirements in certain common project situations. To him, that one insight provided significant benefit. It was one insight among many.
In a sense, we are just beginning to open the gifts. There are many opportunities. If you would like to engage with the work of the caucus, please contact ScottWorkinger [at] gmail.com.
Scott Workinger, Ph.D.
INCOSE SFBAC Past-President