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The Paradoxical Mindset of Systems Engineers by Devanandham Henry, Nicole Hutchison, Arthur Pyster

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4A SYSTEMS ENGINEER’S PROFICIENCIES

You don’t have the ability to just go in and hit them with a stick and say, “you’ll do it”; or even if you had that ability, it’s not particularly effective.

– Anonymous Helix participant on the importance of persuasion

Every professional requires a certain set of proficiencies – knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and cognition – to perform their job. For some professions and positions, these proficiencies are relatively quick and easy to learn; e.g. someone can learn how to mow lawns or clean swimming pools well in a matter of days or weeks. At the other extreme, becoming even a mediocre nurse requires years of education and practice because what nurses do is so knowledge intensive, varied, and complex, requiring significant judgment with high consequence of failure. If your pool is not cleaned well, it is annoying but can be easily fixed. If your nurse scuttles your care, you can die.

And what about systems engineers? To consistently deliver the values described in Chapter 2 while performing the roles described in Chapter 3, a systems engineer needs a specific set of proficiencies very much like a nurse does. Systems engineering roles are also relatively knowledge intensive, varied, and complex, requiring significant judgment with high consequence of failure. It takes years of experiences, mentoring, and education & training to grow them adequately to be an effective systems engineer. Here, in this chapter, we examine these specific ...

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