Systems Thinking – The Benefit to the Systems Engineer

Presented by Dr. Robert Edson

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017




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Extract: A fundamental competency required of systems engineers is a mastery of systems thinking – looking at the “big picture”, and understanding and managing emergent behavior, unintended consequences, and non-linear behavior in systems and problems of all scales. This presentation explores systems thinking and its application to modern systems and problems, emphasizing mental models and the simultaneity of perspectives, the role of paradox, and the centrality of soft issues in resolving complexity. These concepts will be discussed especially as they relate to understanding the development and behaviors of complex enterprise systems and systems of systems. Several case studies of systems thinking application will be presented to illustrate the utility of systems thinking to both hard technology and sociotechnical systems.


Dr. Robert Edson, is a Principal Systems Engineer at MITRE where he works to build their systems thinking capability and practice. Prior to MITRE, he served as Vice President and Chief Information Officer for ANSER, and Director, Applied Systems Thinking Institute (ASysT). While at ANSER, he led corporate transformation and strategic initiatives, and the corporate research organization with oversight of all internal research activities, corporate capability development, workforce shaping programs and facility and information systems. As Director of ASysT, Robert led an institute whose mission was to advance the application of systems thinking principles in the fields of national security, homeland security, intelligence, energy, environment, education, and healthcare. Prior to his current position, Mr. Edson served in a progression of industry technical and management positions in the environment, disaster response, and technology development areas. Robert began his career as a Naval Officer, filling billets in the Surface Warfare, Engineering and Geophysics communities.