Air Force Institute of Technology Wright Patterson AFB United States
I read the book while sitting on a remote tropical island, sipping a frozen adult beverage of my choice, and enjoying the kind of cheeseburger Jimmy Buffet sings about. As the warm sun turned my skin the color of the tomato on my burger, one line jumped out at me. On page 88, I read, At least one major prime contractor known to the committee has decided to eliminate the term systems engineering altogether after finding that many of the accumulated documented processesin government, academia, and industry are useless. Because I am about to complete a masters degree in systems engineering, this rejection hit a littleclose to home. Plus, I wasnt really on a tropical island. I was in Ohio, and I wasnt eating a cheeseburger. Anyway, the authors go on to talk about the adverse effects of obsolete and non-relevant process requirements and the importance of allowing systems engineering and program management the leeway to tailor compliance with required processes to suit the needs of each specific program. Ah, leeway to tailor compliancenow theyre singing my song. But all this discussion about obsolete and irrelevant processes made me suspect that systems engineering was getting a bum rap in some circles. See, Im not sure systemsengineering is really all about establishing strict, formal processes, despite the best efforts of some to make it so. In fact, while systems engineers certainly need to understand process work and often use a process-driven approach, systems engineering is actually a more organic activity than some people make it sound.