A Meeting of the Minds: A Successful Systems Engineering Experiment using Concept Maps for Effective Communications

Presented at INCOSE 2005

John L. BeVier and Colleen A. Calimer

Abstract: An informal experiment was conducted to test the effectiveness of communicating Systems Engineering concepts with customers using Concept Maps.   The goal was to understand systems engineering concepts and techniques with customers using non- technical diagrams, as well as to establish that the systems engineers had more-accurately captured customer needs.   

In short, the experiment was about creating a more customer-friendly vehicle that enabled “Systems Engineering-speak”.  This paper describes the customer/engineer communication problems found during the experiment, compares the effectiveness of Concept Maps and Use Cases for this experiment, describes Concept Map basics and the customer’s reaction to them, and describes the proposed Systems Engineer’s use of Concept Maps.  The authors note that there are other, successful systems engineering communication methodologies and endeavors.  They were not addressed in this experiment.  Never-the-less, the result of the experiment was an enthusiastic and successful meeting of the minds, resulting in a successful shared customer/engineering vision. We offer our Concept Map findings for serious consideration in establishing both customer-friendly and Systems Engineer effective communications. 

A link to the PDF paper:Meeting of the Minds