Organizing for Innovation: Leveraging the Creative Tension between Product Management and Systems Engineering

by David Quimby and Bill Farmer | at MinneBar 13

Product management and systems engineering — never (or, mostly never) the twain shall meet. The disconnect between product vision and technical vision impedes vast untapped productivity and creativity. We will explore and propose new models of collaboration and social innovation for integrating the product vision and the technical vision into a shared vision.

Systems engineering is not electrical engineering or mechanical engineering or chemical engineering. Systems engineering is not software engineering. As we will explain, systems engineering is “the queen of the disciplines”. In that nature lies its unique potential to dialogue with product management and accelerate product development. We will augment our rather unconventional application of systems engineering with design thinking and behavioral science to create a sandbox that frames the problem and possible solutions.

We have recently observed and experienced this dilemma from both the product management perspective and the systems engineering perspective; we have detected the various lamentations of the corresponding professional communities. We will use this MVP (“Minimum Viable Presentation”) in an interactive format to explore possible routes for bridging this inter-disciplinary gap. We will model lean innovation / experimental design by engaging our audience as co-creators in advancing the concept.

All levels

David Quimby

I am a mathematical economist and systems analyst. I have rotated through various cycles at the extremes of large enterprise and small enterprise as a technology executive and a software entrepreneur. My expertise includes knowledge management, technology forecasting, and systematic innovation; I am also a thought leader in the application of systems engineering to organizational design.

I have conducted business process re-engineering (BPR) in the large-enterprise domain and I have led large-scale technical integration in the context of mergers and acquisitions. I am a co-founder of Minnesota Change Management Network (MNCMN); I have presented to professional communities on various topics around data science, product management, business architecture, and systems engineering. I am a patented inventor in the user experience and Web middleware domain; I collaborated with Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the graphical user interface (GUI), at Stanford Research Institute.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics and developmental economics at UCLA and a master’s degree in organizational behavior and socio-technical systems at UC - Berkeley.

Bill Farmer

Bill Farmer is a Principal Consultant with F&A Consulting and an Adjunct Professor at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. He holds degrees in Electrical Engineering and Japanese from the University of Minnesota, and did his graduate studies at the Media Lab at MIT. After MIT, Bill spent three years working as a research engineer at Sharp Corporation in Japan and grew familiar with "Japanese-style Management", based on the Deming Management System. Subsequent to his return stateside, Bill held executive leadership positions at three Twin Cities corporations, in Product Development and General Management. Over the last decade, Bill has been consulting on Lean Product Development, Agile, and related topics.