Keys To Effective Chapters

Keys to Effective Chapters Library

CHAPTERS:   Local chapters are essential in supporting local members and achieving INCOSE's goals and objectives. Far more than local administrative groups, chapters are performing units that organize a multitude of professional and social programs, conduct membership recruitment and retention drives, support technical activities striving to advance the state and art of systems engineering, and market INCOSE as the international authoritative body on systems engineering.  Chapters are a primary conduit between INCOSE's technical products and publications, and local INCOSE members and their companies. 

GOAL:   Sector Leadership provides the first line of support. To provide more in-depth help, the Keys to Effective Chapters program aims to identify and promote best practices for chapters, to help them operate efficiently by providing basic process guidelines and examples of best practices.

WHY:   Often there are significant changes in leadership from year to year with challenges as the new team starts over. The Keys Library offers a path for a smooth transition.

WHO:   While the primary target is current chapter leaders, everyone who is an INCOSE member is able to read and download any document posted on this site. Chapter Officers can also add content to this site by clicking Edit at the top right side of this page.​

WHEN:   Soon after chapter elections, the leadership team should take the chapter leader training (see links in the Leadership section).  Planning is one of the first activities for the year and the Keys Library provides some suggestions on planning plus examples of planning documents. Likewise, for new activities throughout the year, the Keys provides tips, guidelines, and examples. 

CHAPTER AWARDS SUPPORT:   The Keys to Effective Chapters Library is organized according to the Chapter Circle Awards criteria as a handy reference. 

OTHER ANCILLARY SUPPORT FOR CHAPTER LEADERSHIP:   INCOSE YouTube Channel: Contains many systems engineering-related videos. Click Here.​

Chapter Leadership

This section contains t​raining and guidance for new chapter leaders as well as refresher instruction for experienced leaders. Examples of documents used by successful chapters will be presented. For example, Consitution and Bylaws (Chapter and International) used by award winning chapters along with important references to ​​INCOSE policies and procedures that all chapter leaders need to be aware of. These are updated occaisionally and it is important to re-examine them from time-to-time as international laws change, INCOSE membership grows and our industry changes.​

The following officers are required by the INCOSE Bylaws as a minimum organization:

  • President
  • President Elect (for the following year)
  • Vice President
  • Secretary/Treasurer


Most chapters use a one year term, usually coinciding with the calendar year, although some chapters have a different cycle. Some chapters find 2 year terms, at least for President & Vice President Elect very helpful​

Chapter Planning

As Benjamin Franklin is often quoted: "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail".  The opportunity and obligation of chapter leaders is to look at the year ahead and create a plan with goals and activities to engage and challenge members to enhance knowledge and skills related to careers in systems engineering. This will involve both strategic (long range) and operational (current year) plans along with ensuring there is supporting infrastructure and communications to ensure success. 

Chapter Programs

The core chapter activities are chapter meetings and local tutorials. Some chapters organize and conduct local seminars or mini-conferences. Chapters are encouraged to work together to leverage talent and opportunities. One way to do this is through regional conferences.

Activities are the lifeblood of the local chapter to involve the membership, provide education in Systems Engineering and related disciplines, and encourage networking. Plans should be detailed in the Operating Plan. Description: There are many activities available for the local chapter and should be detailed as part of the Operating Plan. Periodic chapter meetings are a core activity. Sources of presentations can be found in work done by local companies or engineering schools. Another excellent source is presentations by any one of the almost forty INCOSE Working Groups. Tutorials can provide opportunities to gain new skills. Local seminars and conferences provide a means to provide benefits to members and their companies/organizations. Working with other chapters to plan and carry out regional conferences can broaden the breadth and depth of offerings. When in proximity to an International Workshop or Symposium, the chapter can help plan and carry out some of the many functions required.

Working Groups are an excellent source of speakers for chapter events, providing the latest thinking on most System Engineering topics. A valuable resource is the Working Group Reports from the Closing Plenary of the International Workshops shown in "Quad Charts". For each working group there is a summary of their Charter, the Chair/Co-chair(s) with webpages, Published Products/Accomplishments, and Planned Work. Contact the chairs to see about speaker availability.


Systems Engineering Professional (SEP) certification formally recognizes a member's progress through their career as they develop and apply systems engineering knowledge and practices.  INCOSE offers three levels of certification ASEP, CSEP, and ESEP.  

Certification is a formal process whereby a community of knowledgeable, experienced, and skilled representatives of an organization, such as INCOSE, provides confirmation of an individual's competency (demonstrated knowledge and experience) in a specified profession. Certification differs from licensing in that licenses are permissions granted by a government entity for a person to practice within its regulatory boundaries. Certification also differs from a "certificate" that documents the successful completion of a training or education program. 

Certification is a primary reason for many members joining INCOSE and should be a component of every chapter's program. This might include tutorials based on the Systems Engineering Handbook which is the basis for the certification exam. It might also include hosting local opportunities to take the exam.

images of ASEP, CSEP, and ESEP badges


Outreach and Collaboration activities of the chapter are where the chapter interacts with entities outside of INCOSE to promote INCOSE and/or apply & apply systems engineering.

There are many opportunities for outreach and collaboration. Participating in joint meeting with another professional society such as ASQ, PMI, IEEE, or AES can provide an opportunity to explain or promote systems engineering. Working in the non-corporate community, collaborating with such entities as a local government, university, or non-profit may bring systems engineering to bear in new areas.

Working with students from K-college/trade schools is another way to develop interest in systems engineering with activities such as speaking during Engineering Week or sponsoring or participating in events such as Future City, science fairs, or robotics competitions.

Outreach can also involve making a presentation about INCOSE to executives in a previously unrepresented organization.

Marketing & Communications

Chapters need to promote the value of systems engineering and INCOSE throughout its area of influence, particularly companies and educational institutions. 

Chapters need to promote the value of the local chapter to all INCOSE members in nearby companies and universities. 

Chapters must also communicate effectively with all its members, usually by email and via the chapter website. 

Style Guides & Templates

To protect and preserve the INCOSE brand, chapters need to be aware of and use INCOSE approved style guides and templates. Com- 101 is the governing policy. INCOSE Marketing and Communications (MarCom) has developed standards and maintains a library here. 
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