Establishing Systems Competency in Enterprises: Recent Studies
Author(s)Rhodes, Dr. Donna H.; Lamb, Caroline T.
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The practice of systems engineering has evolved significantly over the past decade in response to new challenges, yet at the same time the engineering workforce has declined. Several studies also cite an erosion of engineering competency, particularly in government and aerospace/defense industry. The development of systems competency is critical; yet, we lack the empirical basis for developing a truly informed strategy for addressing this need. This talk will describe past and ongoing research on systems thinking and practice that is focused on informing the development of competency models and collaboration models. Competency models define the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by individual systems professionals in an enterprise. Collaboration models specify success factors for groups and teams within and across enterprises who collectively work on a common objective. Establishing systems competency in enterprises involves empirical studies and case based research for the purpose of understanding how to achieve more effective systems engineering practice through understanding of the context in which systems engineering is performed and understanding the factors underlying the competency of the systems workforce. The talk will discuss three recent and ongoing research studies with highlights of interim research outcomes. The first research effort is focused on building empirical knowledge of the enablers, barriers and precursors of the development of systems thinking in individual engineers, and thus far included a study within the aerospace industry (Davidz 2006), and extended in an exploratory study within an aerospace government agency. A second line of research is looking at effective socio-technical practices of collaborative distributed systems engineering, that is, where teams are non-geographically collocated (Utter 2007). A third research project (Lamb 2008/ongoing) seeks to develop an empirical basis for collaborative systems thinking, defined as “an emergent behavior of teams resulting from the interactions of team members and utilizing a variety of thinking styles, design processes, tools, and languages to consider system attributes, interrelationships, context and dynamics towards executing systems design”. These recent and ongoing LAI studies seek to impact the effectiveness of individuals and groups to strengthen performance of modern enterprises involved in acquiring and developing complex systems.
competency, collaboration, systems thinking
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