Skip to main content

The Paradoxical Mindset of Systems Engineers: Uncommon Minds, Skills, and Careers

E-Book

$79.99

The Paradoxical Mindset of Systems Engineers: Uncommon Minds, Skills, and Careers

Arthur Pyster, Nicole Hutchison, Devanandham Henry

ISBN: 978-1-119-41216-8 July 2018 272 Pages

E-Book
$79.99
Hardcover
$99.00
O-Book

Description

A guide that explores what enables systems engineers to be effective in their profession and reveals how organizations can help them attain success

The Paradoxical Mindset of Systems Engineers offers an in-depth look at the proficiencies and personal qualities effective systems engineers require and the positions they should seek for successful careers. The book also gives employers practical strategies and tools to evaluate their systems engineers and advance them to higher performance. The authors explore why systems engineers are uncommon and how they can assess, improve, and cleverly leverage their uncommon strengths. These insights for being an ever more effective systems engineer apply equally well to classic engineers and project managers who secondarily do some systems engineering.

The authors have written a guide to help systems engineers embrace the values that are most important to themselves and their organizations. Solidly based on interviews with over 350 systems engineers, classic engineers, and managers as well as detailed written career descriptions from 2500 systems engineers — The Paradoxical Mindset of Systems Engineers identifies behavioral patterns that effective systems engineers use to achieve success. This important resource:

  • Offers aspiring systems engineers practical methods for success that are built on extensive empirical evidence and underlying theory
  • Shows systems engineers how to visually document their relative strengths and weaknesses, map out their careers, and compare themselves to the best in their organizations – a rich set of tools for individuals, mentors, and organizations
  • Offers practical guidance to managers and executives who lead systems engineering workforce improvement initiatives  

Written for systems engineers, their managers, business executives, those who do some systems engineering but primarily identify with other professions, as well as HR professionals, The Paradoxical Mindset of Systems Engineers offers the most comprehensive career guidance in the field available today.

About the Authors xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Foreword xvii

Preface xxi

1 Paradoxical Mindset 1

What is Systems Engineering? 3

Being a Systems Engineer 4

Book Structure 5

Career Development “Ecosystem” for Systems Engineers 10

A Short Summary of the Helix Project 10

Vignettes 13

Notes and References 13

2 Six Uncommon Values 15

The Parable of the Three Stonecutters 15

What is Greatness, Anyhow? 16

Value 1: Keep and Maintain The System Vision 19

Value 2: Translate Technical Jargon Into Business or Operational Terms and Vice Versa 23

Value 3: Enable Diverse Teams to Successfully Develop Systems 26

Value 4: Manage Emergence in Both the Project and the System 29

Value 5: Enable Good Technical Decisions at the System Level 31

Value 6: Support the Business Case for the System 34

How Others View Systems Engineers 36

Notes and References 37

3 Fifteen Roles 41

Roles Focused on the Systems Being Developed 44

Roles Focused on Systems Engineering Process and Organization 47

Roles Focused on Teams that Build Systems 49

Relationship between Roles and Values 51

Art Pyster at Digital Sound Corporation 51

Systems Engineers Often Perform Management Roles 53

Seniority 54

Three Systems Engineers with Increasing Seniority 65

Notes and References 69

4 A Systems Engineer’s Proficiencies 73

Engineering Proficiency Cluster 76

Systems Proficiency Cluster 83

Professional Proficiency Cluster 93

Example Positions 104

Systems Engineers are Π‐Shaped 106

The Whole Package 109

Notes and References 110

5 Hidden in Plain Sight 113

Case 1: Japanese Bullet Train: Fast, Frequent, Safe, and Punctual 114

Case 2: Boeing 777: Maintaining the Vision from Start to End 119

Case 3: Healthcare.gov: Disastrous Start, Incredible Recovery 127

Notes and References 131

6 Proficiency Profiles 133

Assessing Proficiency 137

Exemplar and Recommended Proficiency Profiles 141

Aggregate Proficiency Profiles 141

Notes and References 142

7 Three Forces 145

Force 1: Experiences 147

Force 2: Mentoring 153

Force 3: Education & Training 158

Force Multipliers 160

Notes and References 170

8 Successful Careers 173

Nicole Hutchison Grows into a Systems Engineer 175

Two Datasets about Senior Systems Engineers 177

Four Questions 180

The Education of Systems Engineers 181

The Experiences of Chief Systems Engineers 187

Cathy’s Career Revisited 195

Career Maps for Pyster and Hutchison 197

Notes and References 199

9 Secondarily a Systems Engineer 201

Classic Engineers 203

Program and Project Managers 212

Notes and References 218

10 Thrive 219

Looking Ahead 220

How a Junior or Mid‐Level Systems Engineer Can Thrive 223

How a Classic Engineer, Who is Secondarily a Systems Engineer, Can Thrive 223

How a Manager of Systems Engineers Can Thrive 228

How an Executive Can Thrive 229

Closing Thoughts 229

Notes and References 232

Appendix Biographical Sketches of Quoted Systems Engineers 233

Glossary and Acronyms 237

Index 241