Topics: 1.6. Systems Thinking20. Industry 4.0 & Society 5.05.3. MBSE & Digital Engineering
Abstract: We live in the age of digital, leveraging unprecedented computational power and storage to improve our lives. As we apply digital to our organizations, the critical business and engineering concepts of today – digital transformation, digital thread, digital twin, digital engineering – are far more than technology. All live at the intersection of human and technology, world view and workflow, culture and organizational change. Yet we tend to focus on technology often to the extreme of doing so in isolation. How can we look beyond digital, embrace the greater scope, and bridge the divides to transform our approaches and deliver success in the digital age? This presentation first establishes the changing context for systems engineering framing the explosion in complexities and expectations. Alongside the six megatrends identified in INCOSE Systems Engineering Vision 2035, we see the growth in system scale, mission complexity, technology complexity, project team complexity, and dynamic complexity (where problems and technologies rapidly evolve inside the solution loop.) As the problems and complexities grow, so does the pressure to reduce cycle time. Within this context, there are four fundamental steps to delivering success in the digital age. First is to embrace 21st century technologies. We do not have to engineer tomorrow’s solutions with yesterday’s technology. That means educating ourselves on and leveraging digitalization, big data and analytics, AI/ML, augmented reality and virtual reality, additive manufacturing, biotechnology, and more. From the perspective of the systems engineer, it means avoiding the trap of creating new digital silos, instead ensuring the unbroken thread of traceability and provenance throughout the project lifecycle. While digital and technology is where we should begin, it cannot be where we end. Second we must transform for today’s world and reconnect with systems thinking. This means shifting from a mechanistic mindset to a life sciences / biological mindset better suited for today’s interconnected world. Recognizing the pace of change in problem, solution, and expectation, it means less linear thinking and more agile parallel approaches. In doing so, it means moving from digitizing what we did before to reconceptualizing and digitalizing new approaches better suited for the problems, pace, and uncertainty of today. Third, we must shed some of our arrogance and look beyond engineering. Human expectations, humans inside our systems, and societal needs are fundamental drivers in the complexity we face and in addressing that complexity. That means reconnecting with the socio dimension of sociotechnical embracing the human in the system and human in the engineering of systems. While leveraging new technologies, transforming our mindset, and embracing the socio in sociotechnical are all critical enablers, we cannot deliver success until we commit to deploying and transforming new approaches suited to both our problem, our organization, and our business value. As systems engineers, it can be helpful to frame this as an enterprise systems problem leveraging classical systems tools: stakeholder identification, requirements elicitation, black box thinking, and journey mapping. Defining and undertaking the journey is the fourth key step. Whether we change is not in question. The future demands that we change. Changes in our context, technologies, and workforce guarantee change and some form of digitization for all but the simplest of circumstances. But will we go beyond digital, and how successful will we be? Without focus, approaches tend to devolve to accidental, fragmented, or assembled. The path to success lies in embracing our systemic and holistic foundations, engineering the transformation, and bridging the divides across the technological and socio dimensions.
Biography David Long: David has spent over 30 years helping organizations assess, adopt, and deploy methods to increase their systems engineering proficiency while simultaneously working to advance the state of the art. David founded and led Vitech where he developed innovative, industry-leading methods and software to engineer next-generation systems. Today, he is the Chief Engineer for Digital Engineering at the Systems Engineering Research Center working to coordinate and advance their digital portfolio. He co-authored A Primer for Model-Based Systems Engineering and frequently delivers keynotes and workshops around the world.
An INCOSE Fellow and Expert Systems Engineering Professional, David was the 2014/2015 President of INCOSE. David currently serves as INCOSE’s Director for Strategic Integration and as a coach in INCOSE's Technical Leadership Institute.