Last week I was a panelist together with Bruce P. Douglass and Stefan Hänggi at the SWISSED conference in Zurich. The topic of the panel was “How does implementing Systems Engineering enhance an organization’s competitiveness?”. We had a very good discussion and since I was one of the panelists and not the minute taker I cannot repeat the discussion here. But my preparation notes of the panel are a good source for a blog post and I have turned my bullet points into a brief text:
The moderator will ask the panel attendees”What are your favorite SE-methods/techniques that increase an organization’s competitiveness?”
I like the style of manifestos to not think in black and white or strict rules, but to give some things more value than other things. One important guiding principle in manifesto style for me is
People over processes: Processes have value, but the best processes do not work if the people do not have the capability to perform them. The other way round: Real SE craftsman could be successful even with bad processes. Some companies have special process departments, other companies have a feelgood manager (Ok – that is probably a very special comparison).
The point is Focus more on the people. Trust your team members and spend the effort to create boundary conditions and to remove obstacles. And do not spend too much effort in optimizing the processes. We live in a complex and dynamic world. A process could only cover things we already know, i.e., they are good and efficient in a stable environment. Technically it is easy to apply this principle. The challenge is the mindset of the people and the trust of the management.
Another guiding principle:
Models over Documents: Wherever and whenever you can put your engineering information into a model instead of a document. A document is a good view of a model. But as a master of the information, it is a dead storage. You cannot really access your information anymore. No analysis, traceability, etc. without a huge amount of manual and buggy work.
Apply systems engineering with systems engineering principles: Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary approach, a holistic view of the system. If you apply SE in your organization consider all stakeholders, the interfaces to other disciplines and engineering processes. The INCOSE definition of systems engineering says “Systems Engineering integrates all the disciplines and specialty groups into a team effort.” Unfortunately, I often observe that systems engineering is an island discipline in an organization. From the viewpoint of the other engineering disciplines some strange people who create a bunch of models and documents that no one needs.