SEs as Creative Leaders

by Paul Martin on March 11, 2012  •   Print This Post Print This Post   •   

John Thomas has just begun his reign as the President of all of INCOSE at the IW2012. He’s posted several Position Papers on Systems Engineering that are well worth the read.

Image from NY Times

Image from NY Times by Margaret Riegel

I briefly talked to John after the CAB panel during the IW2012 and mentioned the concept that was put forth a few years back, “The MFA is the new MBA”.  (This was in light of his remarks on SEs taking a greater role in leadership.)   I found an article from the NY Times and one from the Harvard Business Review that discuss this notion. However, the main point I wanted to highlight was the incredible need that organizations and businesses have for creative leaders. And SEs should answer this call. It’s time for SEs to embrace their creativity and lead organizations to greater heights of technical glory.

The Book "The Art of Systems Architecting"Sure, PMI can churn out Program Managers who are basically technicians with a check list (Do WBS, check. Do Schedule, check. Apply Resources, check.) and they can in turn help run a program office.  But who helps figure out what the WBS should consist of? What kind of resources are needed? What is the most realistic schedule? And who helps figure out a solution with the technology that’s available and within the constraints of time and funds available? – the SE, that’s who.  And it takes incredible creativity to do this.  Is it no wonder that a key text book on Systems Architecture is Mark W. Maier’s “The Art of Systems Architecting“??

And isn’t this creativity on display as an SE rises through the ranks of his employer only to be tapped to go into the Program Management career path. Organizations need creative leaders. And we’ve lost more good SEs to the lure of a PM career then accidental death and disease combined. (OK, I just made that up, but it helps get the point across.)

We need to stress that Creative Leadership is embodied in the SE and try to explain to Program Managers that Systems Engineering is not a side function to be activated when needed, but it is the solution! Once this happens then we’ll see even more progress in the advancement of the Systems Engineering profession into leadership positions.

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