Sunday, April 6, 2014

Systems Engineering Transformation Caucus Update

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]

Scott Workinger, Ph.D.
INCOSE SFBAC Past-President

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Upcoming Membership Meeting: The Integrity of the Supply Chain in an Age of Globalization - Counterfeit Parts, A Systems Engineer's Nightmare!

Meeting Information
Speaker: George J. Vlay
Date: April 14, 2014
Time: 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Location: Carnegie Mellon University, Silicon Valley Campus (CMU), Moffett Field, CA

Counterfeit electrical, electronic and mechanical parts are flooding the marketplace.  More than a million counterfeit parts were found in military equipment.  National Defense Authorization Act-2011 requires contractors to certify all components meet all regulations.  Failures in a DOD program will require the prime contractor to replace and repair at their own expense.  Anticipated consequences of DOD, European Union and Russia include cracking down on counterfeit parts. 

All of the counterfeit parts will now find their way into civilian markets.  Automobile recalls, Lithium-Ion parts and the San Francisco Bay Bridge bolts will be reviewed.  Counterfeit software is allowing hackers to embed back doors for future access into personal, business and protected data. 

Best practices will be outlined with consequences for System Engineers.  A proof will be presented to understand the reliability of every part and material in a product.

Speaker Bio
Mr. George J. Vlay received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Buffalo (UB) in 1953, and further pursued his education at UB with graduate work in electronics and mathematics.  From 1956 to 1966 he held positions as Project Engineer with Aero Commander, Inc. in Norman, Oklahoma and with Sylvania Electronic Systems in Williamsville, New York.

George then joined Philco-Ford (renamed Ford Aerospace) in 1966 in Palo Alto, California, holding a number of increasing responsible positions:
  • Joining the company as Manager of Communications Systems Activity, he was responsible for advanced communication satellite designs, large scale communication systems and ground terminal systems
  •  As Director of Business Development & Planning, George was responsible for the Western Development Divisions 5/10 year Business Plan and Marketing Plans.
  •  As Director of Technical Affairs with responsibility for the IR&D Program for plan, 5/10 year technology plans, mission analysis, proposal development, productivity and computer-aided design for engineering and manufacturing.
  • As Director of Product Assurance he held responsibility for hardware and software Quality Assurance, reliability, test equipment and spacecraft and aerospace ground equipment environmental test equipment.
  • His last assignment with Ford Aerospace was as Director of Systems Management, to review and improve the division’s processes to maintain the high reliability of the Divisions products.

Mr. Vlay then established Systems Management Associates, a consulting company to Space Systems Loral and electronics companies throughout Silicon Valley.  Although many contracts required confidentiality agreements, one program stands out:  The US Air Force embarked on a program to streamline the RFP process.  A team of 20 Air Force Officers and civilians were empowered to perform this task.  They also required industry participation and Mr. Vlay was selected as the CODSIA (Council of Defense and Space Industries Association) representative for this year-long program.  A very streamlined RFP process was developed and implemented by the US Air Force.

George Vlay has been an active participant in the following organizations:
  • Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
  •   Distinguished Lecturer for the AIAA
  • Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
  • Founding Member of the International Council of Systems Engineers
  • Member of Pi Mu Epsilon, a National Honorary Mathematical Fraternity