Collaboration, Communications and Culture in Systems Engineering: a Pathway to Smoother Projects

    Abstract: Are you on a project, where parts of the Systems Engineering are not “in flow”? For instance, is the elicitation of needs or development of requirements a struggle? Or for many critical infrastructure programs – is there a wildly diverse set of stakeholders and project participants, that technical and risk discussions are lost in the translation between the culture and vocabulary of different sectors? This presentation will show how a focus on the collaboration involved – or lack thereof – could get to the root of the problem. Projects are made up of human beings, and sometimes a gap in communication, unclear roles, or some other flaw in the flow of information can slow down even hard working, dedicated and emotionally intelligent team members.

    Three areas for trouble-shooting are described: Collaboration, Communications, and Culture. The INCOSE Needs and Requirements Manual (NRM) will serve as the basis for exploring the role of collaboration, and propose a team structure that will help identify if there is a role gap or broken link. Next we present a communications model in the context of systems engineering that reminds us it is ONLY how the message is received, that counts. Finally the third part will introduce how a Collaborative Systems-Thinking Culture (CSTC), can help these new changes stick, long term. Fixing issues around collaboration, communications, or culture is not easy, nor often quick; if these are the root of the problems, then there is no substitute action (deploying MBSE for instance) that will let project performance to improve. Not only is this achievable, but project work we propose, will be more satisfying along the way – leading to a much better product or system for your customer.

    Speaker: Raymond B. Wolfgang helps a variety of National Systems complete projects on-time and on-budget through crafting and managing requirements, verification, and validation activities. He currently serves as a Systems Engineer at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. He has led requirements authorship and analysis for several programs, at both the systems-level and for multiple components. He has deployed several process improvement initiatives in requirements management, and currently leads an effort to complete a large program’s use case portfolio. His interests focus in requirements state-of-practice, systems engineering applied to critical infrastructure and social systems, and leadership practice in Systems Engineering. Raymond also served as a systems engineer and information assurance engineer on several research and development programs for the US Navy as a civilian. An electrical engineer by training, Ray has degrees from Purdue University and Pennsylvania State University, and remains active in the Enchantment chapter of INCOSE (southwest USA) as well as several other professional societies. He is currently a CSEP holder and has a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) with some other IT security certifications from his days in Information Assurance. Reach out to him on LinkedIN for any questions or follow-up.