Collaborative Systems Thinking Culture: A Path to Success for Complex Projects

Ann Hodges

Abstract: The world is filled with hard, complex problems seeking solutions. To make these often daunting problems more manageable to solve, both a mindset shift, and key candidate methodologies centered around a collaborative systems thinking culture are proposed. The idea is to introduce not just some collaborative practices, or systems-thinking approaches. Rather, the proposal for solving the tough problems – complex problems that basic approaches do not seem to solve – is to move an organization beyond basic techniques into a culture that has as its core a collaborative and systems-thinking theme. This paper will present an introduction to what a collaborative systems thinking culture (CSTC) is and looks like. The paper starts with exploring the state of the practice, presents the mindset change involved with systems thinking, propose that a collaborative approach is a part of this shift, and then conclude with the 7 phases that the reader can introduce into their organization to realize some of the benefits. What the attendee will learn, is a practical, 7-step approach to help facilitate moving their group to a more collaborative culture. Not all steps must be done at once, and the approach of course is tailorable to the attendee's situation. Cultural change can be hard, but this presentation will provide ideas and a process to get started. The intent is that with the right amount of CSTC in the organization, projects will produce results of higher quality, with better schedule and cost performance.

This work first appeared at the 2022 INCOSE International Symposium, and is the culmination of the research performed by the INCOSE Technical Leadership Institute (TLI) Cohort 6. Authors for the original work also include Mickael Bouyaud (Ingenico SAS), Natalie Davila-Rendon, Jay Patel and Michael Wozniak (Lockheed Martin), Alex Deng (SNC-Lavalin Atkins), Jean Duprez (Airbus), Anabel Fraga (Carlos III of Madrid University), Leema John (Eli Lilly), Ryan Noguchi and Maria Romero (Aerospace Corporation) and Erika Palmer (Cornell University). The original paper is available in the IS 2022 proceedings.

SpeakerRaymond 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 INCOSE papers focus on requirements state-of-practice, and injecting MBSE into current programs that are already midway into the lifecycle. Raymond currently serves on the INCOSE Requirements Working Group, and as a member of the INCOSE Technical Leadership Institute (TLI). Before Sandia, while working for the US Navy (NAVWAR in San Diego), Raymond managed installation requirements for a critical ship-board technology refresh and served as a systems engineer and electrical engineer on several research and development programs. Raymond has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University (USA), and remains involved in Toastmasters International as well as the Enchantment chapter of INCOSE in the southwest US. He is originally from the Philadelphia, PA, USA area.

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