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by Alexander Turkhanov

Systems Engineering and systems thinking

Systems engineer is the one who is responsible for the success of the system as a whole
Systems engineering is a way of organizing the work of a huge number of people over one very difficult task, so that everyone is happy with the result.

Those who are engaged in systems engineering are called systems engineers. The profession of a "systems engineer" was recognized in 2009 as the best profession in the United States. In the published by CNN Money in conjunction with PayScale ranking of jobs with the highest pay rate and career growth, the first place is occupied by the system engineer.

The teacher of our School Alexander Turkhanov wrote an article about system thinking and system engineering:

"I will begin an explanation of what systems thinking is, with an explanation of what systems engineering is.

Systems engineering is a way of organizing the work of a huge number of people over one very difficult task, so that everyone is left happy with the result.

For example, in order to build a plane, the coordinated work of 400,000 people of thousands of different specialties is needed. Even an ordinary phone is the fruit of the labor of thousands and thousands of engineers, managers, accountants and factory workers. Hundreds of millions of people use airplanes and telephones, and the majority are satisfied. This is the work of system engineers.

There are many different schools of system engineering, but at the basis of any of them is system thinking. System thinking is the core, the basis of any system method.

-Airplanes and nuclear power plants were built before, what is so special in system thinking?
- Now it is not enough to do complicated work, it is necessary that hundreds of conflicting interests are taken into account during its implementation.

I will give an example: the constructed highway should satisfy quality requirements of the state inspection, motorists and drivers of wagons. Moreover, motorists should not complain about high cost of the transport tax and the prices for gasoline of which the road funds are filled, and of which this road is constructed. In systematically organized projects the work is considered not only by the "Customer Representative", but also by hundreds and thousands of other people who cannot be influenced at all. That's why we have cheap and good quality cars and phones. And what others have as well - roads and medicine.

-Okay, Who is engaged in this systems thinking?
- Previously, system engineers were involved in it, but in recent years, system thinking has shifted to other professions and there are system managers, system financiers and many other specialties who use system approach. This subject is taught in the best universities in the world, which indicates its relevance.

- Exactly how does systems thinking help organize people?
- System engineers use a mega-model to organize the activity. This is a computer description of the teamwork subject, which examines all aspects of all works. Yes, you are not mistaken, for an airplane it will be 400 thousands of descriptions and maybe even 40 million. That's why it's called a mega-model, it's very big.

- Well okay, you have a mega-model, what is next?
- Now all 400 thousand people can agree on things by working with descriptions from this model. There is no need for them to build an airplane or phone to understand that different parts of their work have converged and will work together successfully, this can be seen from the mega-model. Finding and eliminating errors in mega-models is much cheaper, than in real systems. In the project for 10 billion dollars, 3 billion will be spent on creating and working in a mega-model.

-I understood nothing.
- Everyone knows that the elephant is eaten in parts. To perform complex work, it must be divided into small pieces and distributed to people. This is called splitting. Engineers break apart the product, and get the product structure or structure of fabric, managers divide into parts work or capital, and get a hierarchical work structure (WBS, work breakdown structure) or budgets. For a long time people managed to get work done by a small number of breakdowns in their projects, but as the complexity of the projects increases, the classic established methods of work, which they were taught and which are still being taught in business schools, created more problems. For example, the structure of the budget and the breakdown of work during the development of the power plant project is not suitable at all to the budget structure and the breakdown of work during the operation and maintenance of the same power plant during its performance. This led to an explosive growth of the so-called "designer versus technologist" problem or "white collar and blue collar". The most frequent phrase "you have projected here something that is impossible to create." I will add that not only create, but also to ride on it and repair it is not a lot of pleasure.

- Well what do you want, this is how life is, there is no one true point of view!
- Of course not, as they say it in system thinking. All views of all participants are carefully identified, recorded, and interests are taken into account during the design and creation of the system. This is the difference between modern system thinking and other management systems - happiness for everybody, for cheap and so that no one is offended.

- Wait, how can you take into account the opinion of 400,000 people who will do the work of creating these things, and the same time take into account 400 million, who will use all of these things? There is only one way to do it – create and try.
- Do you use iPhone or other phone? You drive cars, fly on airplanes, now you read this text from computers. Are you satisfied with everything, for the most part? So it is possible, although it is not easy at all. You need to try it in a mega-model, it is much faster and cheaper.

-I do not need to use these mega-models, I'm an accountant / lawyer / builder / Come up yourself.
- Take a paper with a pen and describe what your work was like 15 years ago. What did you do and what tools did you use? Compare it with what and how you do it nowadays. Even if you work as a security guard in a parking lot, many things has changed in your field of work. And if you are an engineer, things have changed many times. These days you cannot ignore what other people want, you cannot simply order that "the car will be black", no one will buy it from you. We must be able to work in large teams, we must be able to quickly switch between projects and tasks. Our current methods of thinking are simply not suited to perform these tasks. For now system thinking is the cheapest way that we have in our civilization to answer all these challenges.

- There is no universal knowledge, money is paid only for real experience.
- Mathematics and good spoken and written speech are typical examples of universal skills. Whatever happens, wherever you work, these skills will be useful to you. It takes a long time to learn them, remember yourself a while ago or remember children of you friends, these skills cannot be "taken from life," but they will be useful to you at any job. System thinking is a new literacy that is useful everywhere.

- Well, you convinced me, we must do mega-models. Where they teach how to do it?
- Prepare yourself cause you will need to study for a long time. This is a special kind of thinking, very different from ordinary, everyday thinking. This kind of thinking needs to be studied for a long time and purposefully, but after that you can apply this tool to the most life situations, no matter what company, institution or project you find yourself in and whatever technology you use.

If you want to become a systems engineer, you can go to UrFU
http: // ...
Or go abroad, most major universities have such a specialty, and often not one.

Specifically, systems thinking is taught in the School of System Management

You can start with a textbook on system thinking http: //

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