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Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Problem Solving Leadership in Systems Engineering Kathryn Jablokow, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University Mechanical.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Problem Solving Leadership in Systems Engineering Kathryn Jablokow, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University Mechanical."— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Problem Solving Leadership in Systems Engineering Kathryn Jablokow, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University Mechanical Engineering and STS

2 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Engineers and Systems Engineering is about systems…. Frontiers of engineering today are in tiny systems on the one hand and macro systems on the other. - Charles Vest, President, National Acad. of Engineering Activities at both extreme scales call for teams of people who will bring knowledge from different disciplines, and their contributions must be integrated into the final result. - H. Hutchinson, Mechanical Engineering Magazine

3 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Systems Engineering = Complex Problem Solving Systems and problems: diverse, complex, challenging Diverse problem solvers (Problem B) Problem A

4 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Problem solving is more than a process. Process Environment PeopleProduct

5 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Problem Solving Leadership We need systems engineers who: Understand the problems they face (including the desired products)Understand the problems they face (including the desired products) Know how to collaborate with other problem solversKnow how to collaborate with other problem solvers Can facilitate the problem solving processCan facilitate the problem solving process Create environments conducive to effective problem solvingCreate environments conducive to effective problem solving

6 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 The Path to Problem Solving Leadership Individual problem solvers Problem solving teams Problem solving leadership

7 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 A Cognitive Approach to Problem Solving

8 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Four Key Variables of Problem Solving KirtonKirton (2003): –Key variables that describe individual problem solvers OpportunityMotiveLevelStyle

9 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 LevelWith whathow much Level: With what, how much, how well and how well I solve problems StyleThe way prefer Style: The way in which I prefer to solve problems The Level-Style Distinction They are independent

10 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 We tend to misinterpret differences in styleas differences in level differences in style as differences in level (and their owners as inferior). The result: We write off their contributions – which may be critical for success.

11 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Structure: A Key Concept StructureStructure is … problem solving cognitive style –a key concept in problem solving and in understanding cognitive style prediction –a prerequisite for prediction

12 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Structure (contd) Tight structure: High predictability, Less flexibility Loose structure: High flexibility, Less predictability

13 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Structure (contd) predictabilityflexibilityWe need both predictability and flexibility in order to succeed: much no problem solving –Too much structure => too few options => no problem solving little no problem solving –Too little structure => too many options => no problem solving balanceneeded problemrequiresThe exact balance needed depends on what the problem requires, not on what any one person prefers.

14 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 The Paradox Of Structure EnablingLimiting Enabling Limiting Anystructureenablinglimiting Any structure is both enabling and limiting at the same time.

15 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Style and Structure Cognitive style (Adaption-Innovation) defines a persons stable preferred way of managing structure when solving problems.

16 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Kirtons Adaption-Innovation Continuum Innovative More Innovative less Prefer lessstructure Adaptive More Adaptive more Prefer morestructure Problem Solving (Cognitive) Style

17 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Targeted ideas Targeted ideas Change agents – improve the system Change agents – improve the system More prudent risk takers More prudent risk takers Reliable, methodical, disciplined, consistent Reliable, methodical, disciplined, consistent Masters of detail Masters of detail Prefer well-defined problem statements Prefer well-defined problem statements Use rules to solve problems Use rules to solve problems Seek consensus, value group cohesion Seek consensus, value group cohesion Adaption: Common Descriptions

18 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Famous Adaptors Thomas Edison Alfred Butts

19 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 CAUTION: The sterling qualities of the Adaptor are often overlooked and undervalued!

20 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Innovation: Common Descriptions Overflowing ideasOverflowing ideas Change agents – replace the systemChange agents – replace the system More daring risk takersMore daring risk takers Think in tangential, unexpected waysThink in tangential, unexpected ways Less constrained by past customsLess constrained by past customs Trade off details for overviewTrade off details for overview Often disregard rules, challenge assumptionsOften disregard rules, challenge assumptions May disturb settled groupsMay disturb settled groups

21 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Famous Innovators Nikolai Tesla Akio Morita

22 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 CAUTION: The blue sky ideas of the Innovator may be misunderstood dismissed! CAUTION: The blue sky ideas of the Innovator may be misunderstood and dismissed!

23 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Assessing Cognitive Style Probably genetically determined (a component of personality)Probably genetically determined (a component of personality) Cannot choose or change your styleCannot choose or change your style Can be measured at an early ageCan be measured at an early age Remains stable with age, experienceRemains stable with age, experience

24 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Style vs. Behavior Style is stable prefer –I prefer to behave in accord with my style –My lowest cost behavior Behavior is flexible can and do –I can and do behave away from my preferred style –Coping behavior –Coping behavior requires extra energy and may be stressful

25 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Assessing Cognitive Style: KAI Cognitive style KAICognitive style can be safely and reliably measured using KAI, a highly-validated style inventory. certificated practitioners33 items, administered by certificated practitioners KAIDr. M. J. Kirton 1976KAI was developed by Dr. M. J. Kirton, a British industrial psychologist, in 1976. KAIover 30 yearsResearchers and practitioners have been testing and using KAI in industry for over 30 years.

26 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 General Population Sample 95 145 16032 45 More Adaptive (prefer more structure) More Innovative (prefer less structure) Observed Mean = 95 Standard deviation 17 Theoretical range: 32 - 160 Observed range: 45 - 145 KAI Style Distribution

27 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Style and Systems Engineers More Adaptive Innovative

28 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Diverse levels and styles are needed to solve successfully the vast diversity of problems with which we are currently faced. No Best Place on the Continuum

29 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Teams (of any size) face the Paradox of Structure, just as individuals do!

30 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 levelstylemotive enablinglimitingcurrentproblemEvery difference (in level, style, or motive) is both enabling and limiting in solving the current problem. advantage disadvantageA cognitive advantage in one situation (or at one time) may be a disadvantage in another. Teams and the Paradox of Structure Current problem = Problem A Managing team diversity = Problem B

31 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Successful teams spend more time on Problem A than on Problem B. The Economy of Diversity

32 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Matching People to Problems Lower Level Problem A 3 Problem A 1 Higher Level More InnovativeMore Adaptive Problem A 2

33 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 There is much more … Cognitive gapCognitive gap BridgingBridging Coping behaviorCoping behavior Agents of changeAgents of change Characterizing Problem ACharacterizing Problem A Pendulum of Change vs. Spiral of Change …Pendulum of Change vs. Spiral of Change … … but we have to wrap things up!

34 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 The Myth of Ideal Leaders Past trendideal leaderPast trend: searching for the ideal leader –Outstanding knowledge of the problem area –Dominating the problem solving process ProblemsProblems with this approach: one person –No one person can know everything needed to solve todays complex problems. increase –Expectations and demands continue to increase.

35 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Problem Solving Leadership Problem solving leaders understand and facilitate: problem 1.The problem (know enough to hold his/her own) problem solving process 2.The problem solving process (through coping, bridging, etc.) problem solver 3.The problem solver (alone and in teams) And how they IMPACT each other!

36 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Practical Applications problem solving framework This problem solving framework is being used by: U.S. Military U.S. Military Defense contractors Defense contractors Research centers & labs Research centers & labs Pharmaceutical industry Pharmaceutical industry Manufacturing companies Manufacturing companies Leadership development orgs. Leadership development orgs.

37 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 PSU Problem Solving Curriculum The Individual Problem Solver (SYSEN 550) Problem Solving Teams (SYSEN 552) Problem Solving Leadership (SYSEN 554) Invention and Creative Design (SYSEN 555) Problem Solving Techniques (proposed) Problem Solving Ethics (STS 589) Foundation Courses Supporting Courses & Special Topics

38 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Problem Solving Research Group AimsAims: –Collaboration on complex problems of interest –Core of a proposed Problem Solving Institute MembersMembers: faculty (PSU & other), students (past & present), corporate & military partners Activities/outcomesActivities/outcomes: –Sponsored projects –Problem Solving Handbook –Papers, proposals, and reports –Training & education programs

39 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Questions and Discussion

40 Copyright 2009 K. W. JablokowINCOSE 2009 Contact Info Kathryn W. Jablokow, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and STS Penn State University – Great Valley 30 E. Swedesford Road Malvern, PA 19355 Tel: 610.648.3372 Fax: 610.648.3377 Email: KWL3@psu.edu


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