Technical Report: Advanced Technical Leadership

Report Number: Technical Report SERC-2016-TR-107

Report Name: Advanced Technical Leadership

Publication Date:  May 5, 2016

Project: Developing Systems Engineering Technical Leadership


Executive Summary

This report summarizes the research findings, conclusions, and recommendations for SERC Research Task 140. The task was intended to facilitate the transition the curriculum content and structure of SYS 350B Business Lens and SYS 350C Enterprise Lens to the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) for their use in training Department of Defense (DoD) systems engineers (SE) and technical leaders for key leadership positions at senior and executive levels. The curriculum for the two courses had previously been developed, tested and refined under SERC Research Task 4 (RT 4), and was validated during student pilots conducted at DAU in December 2013 and March 2014, respectively.

The original intent of RT-140 was to integrate the SYS 350 B&C material into the initial pilot of a larger 11-month Key Leadership Development Program (KLDP) being developed by the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), with sponsorship of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in Huntsville, AL. The SYS 350 B&C courses were respectively designated as Segment 3 and Week 1 of Segment 5 of that 7-segment program.

Following completion of the Segment 3 workshop in November 2015, however, it became apparent to both the SERC and the DAU teams that simply integrating the SYS 350 material into KLDP would not meet the needs of the KLDP learners or of their sponsors. It was concluded that a significant redesign would be required, not only of the SYS 350 material, but also of the entire final 14 weeks of the KLDP Program that Segment 5 was to usher in. Activity to accomplish the redesign was initiated in January 2016, and RT-140 was formally amended on March 5, 2016 to reflect the increased integration scope and provide additional funding to support the effort.

The redesign was undertaken in a spirit of collaborative learning between the SERC and DAU. This “one team” approach eliminated surprises, gaps between program elements and unwarranted assumptions, and capitalized on the unique strengths of people from different organizations. It culminated in a highly successful Segment 5, delivered at DAU in March 2016. Following Segment 5, eighty-two percent of the learners reported that the KLDP program had accelerated their transition to executive leadership by at least a year and fifty percent said it had done so by two years or more. And eighty-six percent said the SERC instructors should be brought back for Pilot 2, either to teach themselves or as consultants to DAU instructors. As of the time of this report, DAU is working toward completion of KLDP Pilot 1 in June and leveraging what was learned from Pilot 1 into the design of Pilot 2, which will be launched in July 2016.

Additional Researcher:

  • Dr. Pamela Burke, Stevens Institute of Technology