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

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5HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

If you have done your systems engineering well, you won’t see it, you won’t even notice it.

– Boeing Senior Systems Engineer John Hearing

“Behind every great system, there is a great systems engineer” is not a far‐fetched claim. But as we have said, most great systems engineers never had that title, and so, in many cases, the systems engineer is largely invisible as a systems engineer. In a way, it is a similar situation with the discipline of systems engineering. It also tends to remain hidden from view. Take any system: the classic disciplines and their contributions are usually up‐front and visible, but the discipline that pulls all of those individual disciplines together toward successful system development is often invisible to the common eye, along with all its performers. In Chapters 24, we presented the values, roles, and proficiencies of systems engineers and how they relate to one another. Before moving on, we present here in this chapter some real‐life observations about them. We examine three case studies that bring to the fore the systems engineering contributions that were critical to their success:

  • Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Train: Fast, Frequent, Safe, and Punctual.
  • Boeing 777: Maintaining the Vision from Start to End.
  • HealthCare.gov: Disastrous Start, Incredible Recovery.

We chose the first two as examples of highly successful systems that have received worldwide accolades and are still quite popular. The latter case study,

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