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Paul Strickland
Paul Strickland

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Thinking About Systems Thinking

I spent a lot of time during the summer thinking about engineering practice and the various tools and techniques that are emerging. One of the most interesting that I was introduced to is Model-based Systems Engineering (MBSE), in particular its application to the concepts of Digital Threads/Digital Twins seen in some manufacturing fields.

I'm a bit prone to getting very excited about the prospect of using new tools in my work; part of this is just my fascination with the new but another part comes from frustration at the highly regulated, slow and old fashioned nature of my industry. The idea of being able to work in a smarter, more efficient way is always tantalising. Rather than just head off in a number of different directions I thought I should choose one area to start with and declare my intentions.

A few of the problems we face are:

  • Late delivery of evidence
  • Immovable delivery dates
  • Fast-changing requirements or priorities

Whilst those problems are caused by external actors, the nature of our work means that any attempt to change them will be a bigger challenge than I want to take on. Instead, I am interested in focusing on what we can do internally to be more adaptive to the short timescales and changing priorities.

To start with, I will consider the following:

  • Model or reverse engineer our existing system
  • Compare the way we work and the type of work we do with other systems engineering examples

As well as that, I am interested in the requirements capture stage, since many problems can be traced to there. I'd therefore like to develop a more objective and robust system for capturing our customers' requirements than we have currently.

I'm publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting

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