Atlas 1.1: An Update to the Theory of Effective Systems Engineers
Human Capital Development
Report Number: SERC-2018-TR-101-A
Publication Date: 2018-01-16
Project: Helix – Developing Effective Systems Engineers
Dr. Nicole Hutchison
Dr. Dinesh Verma
In 2017, the Helix team conducted additional work on effective systems engineering capabilities, culminating in Atlas 1.1, which is an incremental update reflecting additional analysis of existing data as well as additional data collection in 2018. Though the changes in Atlas 1.1 are relatively minor (as reflected in the “.1” version number), they nevertheless reflect not additional data collection and analyses, but also incorporate feedback from the community. The Helix team presented their work at several community events, including the IISE annual conference, the INCOSE International Symposium, the NDIA Systems Engineering Conference, and the SERC Sponsored Research Review (SSRR). At each of these events, the team gained feedback from the community, collecting frequently asked questions, uncovering areas of confusion, and identifying areas for improvement. The changes include:
- Reordering of the values systems engineers provide to reflect the frequency at which they occurred in the dataset along with minor cleanup of the value names;
- Updating the “Requirements Owner” and “Systems Architect” roles. The activities around functional architecture were moved from Requirements Owner to Systems Architect which both better reflect the realities of the grouping of these activities in practice, but are groupings which better align with the mental models of most individuals who have engaged with the Helix team in 2017.
- There were several minor edits to the proficiency model. The proficiency areas stayed the same, though the area formerly titles “Systems Engineering Mindset” is now “Systems Mindset”. Within this area, the category formerly titled “flexibility” has been renamed “adaptability”. This not only better reflects the comments in the Helix interviews – which revolved around the ability of an individual to cope with a change – but also reduces confusion. The distinction between proficiencies and personal enabling characteristics is nuanced, and the term “flexibility” caused confusion about the classification of the category. In addition, the titles of categories in the “Technical Leadership” proficiency area were updated to increase clarity. The previous titles implied overlap; e.g. “Managing Stakeholders with Diverse and Conflicting Needs” and “Conflict Resolution and Barrier Breaking” seemed to overlap, though their topics were different. Though they are related, they are distinct. The Helix team renamed “Managing Stakeholder with Diverse and Conflicting Needs” to “Managing Diverse Stakeholders”.
- Personal enabling characteristics were updated with minor changes in the definitions.
With these changes, the Helix team has reflected all it has learned from additional data collection and supporting organizations that are implementing Atlas in 2017.