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PMI, INCOSE and Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI) at MIT Partner to Find Best Practices for Delivering Successful Programs

by INCOSE UMS | Jun 12, 2012

“Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs” Identifies Best Practices that Effective Teams and Organizations Can Use to Overcome Challenges.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA – Wasting time and financial resources are often dismissed as the cost of doing business when it comes to engineering programs. To help organizations overcome these challenges, reduce risk, and improve ROI, the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) – which first announced their partnership in September 2011 – teamed with researchers and industry members from the Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs.
The guide is an in-depth study that identifies 300 lean enablers, or best practices, that effective teams and organizations can implement to reduce waste and increase project and program success. Access the full report on Dspace@MIT or view the catalog record with citable URI.
“The use of Lean Management principles is particularly potent for organizations, as they heavily emphasize the need for overall integration of the value of delivery across all process and organizational boundaries – including boundaries between program management and systems engineering,” said Mark A. Langley, president and CEO of PMI. “While the study focused primarily on engineering programs, the findings can be applied to other programs as well, including IT, business transformation and community- and society-focused initiatives.”
“LAI at MIT has focused, for almost two decades, on conducting enterprise-level research and developing unique tools and products to help organizations effectively and efficiently produce stakeholder value,” explained LAI Director Prof. Deborah Nightingale. “The Guide to Lean Enablers is a very useful addition to the tools currently available and is the powerful result of a working collaboration between INCOSE, PMI, and LAI.”
The study draws from three domains of management wisdom: lean management, systems engineering and program management. The research team defined 160 program management challenges, which were collected into 10 themes. The most common challenges are:
§ Reactive execution: Programs are driven by outside influences rather than by strategic goals.
§ Lack of accountability: Roles and responsibilities of individuals, teams, project, staff, and organizations are not clearly defined.
§ Insufficient competency:The knowledge of individuals, teams, and the organization is inadequate, not transferred sufficiently, or not applied appropriately during the program.
The study also identifies 300 lean enablers that are grouped around key lean principles including:
§ Respect for people
§ Capturing value as defined by the customer
§ Mapping the value stream
§ Maintaining flow through value-adding processes
§ Letting customers’ needs determine value
§ Pursuing perfection in all processes
To ensure the applicability of the lean enablers to actual programs, two PMI Project of the Year Award finalists – the Prairie Waters public works project in Aurora, Colorado, and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas, served as case studies. In both cases, the researchers found the programs applied more than 75 percent of the recommended enablers.
“This latest research and careful examination of highly successful programs illustrate how collaboration between program managers and systems engineers, paired with the adoption of lean enablers, contribute enormously to the success of programs,” said John A. Thomas, president of INCOSE. “By strategically solving specific challenges, lean thinking removes waste and creates a valuable core competency around delivering value to customers.”
For more information, look for #leanenablers on Twitter and visit
About Project Management Institute (PMI)
PMI is the world’s largest project management member association, representing more than 600,000 practitioners in more than 185 countries. As a global thought leader and knowledge resource, PMI advances the profession through its global standards and credentials, collaborative chapters and virtual communities and academic research. When organizations invest in project management supported by PMI, executives have confidence that their important initiatives will deliver expected results, greater business value and a competitive advantage. Visit us at, and on Twitter @PMInstitute.
About International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE)
INCOSE is a not-for-profit membership organization founded to develop and disseminate the interdisciplinary principles and practices that enable the realization of successful systems.
INCOSE’s mission is to share, promote and advance the best of systems engineering from across the globe for the benefit of humanity and the planet. INCOSE has grown significantly since its formation in 1990. Today, there are over seven thousand members representing a broad spectrum – from student to senior practitioner, from technical engineer to program and corporate management, from science and engineering to business development. Over 50 chapters have been established worldwide and 70 organizations from industry, academia and government are active members of the Corporate Advisory Board. Additional information is available at
About the MIT Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI)
The Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI) at MIT, together with its international Educational Network (EdNet), offers organizational members from industry, government, and academia the newest thinking, products, and tools related to enterprise transformation and architecting.  LAI enables the focused and accelerated transformation of complex enterprises through collaborative stakeholder engagement in developing and institutionalizing principles, processes, behaviors, and tools for enterprise excellence. Please visit for more information.