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Randy Iliff Joins Team PPI


We are excited to announce that Randall (Randy) Iliff has joined the PPI team as a Principal Consultant, assuming roles in both training and consulting.  Based in Madison, WI, USA, Randy will be assisting PPI clients worldwide to realize their ambitions.

Randy brings a unique body of developmental insight applicable across a wide range of enterprise, engineering and managerial efforts, thanks to extraordinary mentors, immersion in great innovation cultures, and decades of diverse application experience.  This insight enables Randy to excel in many roles, including those as a project manager, system engineer, new product development leader, instructor/ mentor and consultant.

Randy is an effective contributor anywhere along the life cycle of a system from first-concept through system retirement but is perhaps most valued for his ability to precisely match development approach to the needs of any given development task.  Randy’s skill at quickly reading and responding to inherent development needs allows him to drive success across diverse aerospace, medical, telecom, scientific and consumer markets.

Randy holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Michigan State University, and a Master of Science in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.  He is also the beneficiary of immersion in a series of great cultures:

  • Randy was a member of the highly-regarded Advanced Development Group at McDonnell-Douglas Astronautics Company in the late 1970’s, where he learned “skunkworks” thinking from Apollo-era design engineers.
  • He was part of the Martin-Marietta Denver Aerospace Group in the 1980’s, a culture revered for their ability to manage complex development programs. At Martin-Marietta, Randy learned the art of conducting program management in harmony with systems engineering, and gained skill in a wealth of supporting disciplines such as Integrated Logistics Support, Reliability/Maintainability/Availability, Configuration Management, and Change Review.
  • During the 1990’s Randy was a key player in Motorola’s transition from excellence as a manufacturer of devices to one of emerging excellence as a system integrator. In addition to providing consulting guidance, Randy developed and delivered an immersive program of training that greatly accelerated the corporation’s transition.
  • More recently, Randy spent almost 9 years with the product development firm bb7, where he helped guide a rapidly-growing organization conducting roughly 250 projects per year across an enormous range of scales and markets. This “commercial skunkworks” exposure has proven invaluable when time and schedule pressures are intense.
  • Thanks to roughly twenty years spent in a consulting role, Randy has also been “inside” a much larger number of organizations and cultures worldwide. The combination of deep immersion and broad exposure enables Randy to select from the very best approaches available.

As an example, Randy drew upon deep understanding of inherent development needs and systems engineering capabilities to define a tailored approach to development effort on the IceCube Neutrino Telescope project.  Application of this “sound but minimalist” development approach enabled an academic team to commission a $250 Million USD instrument at the South Pole ahead of schedule, under budget, and comfortably surpassing required technical performance.  The instrument has proven extraordinarily reliable in service and has already delivered breathtaking science such as the first detection of extra-Galactic neutrinos and confirmation of the link between gamma rays and neutrino particle generation.

A disruptive innovator with a disciplined mind, Randy was a natural fit at the award-winning product design firm bb7 where he served in the role of Systems Engineer, then as Director of Strategic Methods, and eventually Vice President.  Randy helped guide bb7 strategy, vision and operating design of the organization during a period of extraordinary growth.  While at bb7, Randy led several major new product development efforts, provided development strategy and analysis support to dozens more, and in four cases helped clients discover, protect and develop multi-billion-dollar opportunities.  He also planned, launched and managed a third business unit within bb7 dedicated to sharing the organization’s experience via consulting and training.

Early on, Randy discovered the joy of helping others, and during thirty years of course development and delivery he has enriched and inspired more than ten thousand PM, SE, and Product Development professionals worldwide.  He is a regular guest speaker and lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Randy’s Spring 2009 Tong Biomedical Distinguished Entrepreneur Lecture Series presentation “Unlimited Potential – The Power of Mind in Design” was so highly regarded that it became a recurring lecture attended by all who enter the biomedical engineering design program.

Along the way, he helped launch the major engineering professional society INCOSE, where he remains active at the local, national and international levels. Among other roles, he champions that society’s strategic relationship with another major professional organization (PMI), and was key in bringing MIT research on PM and SE integration methods to publication in the 2017 book “Integrating Program Management and Systems Engineering: Methods, Tools and Organizational Systems for Improving Performance”.

Randy’s lateral thinking and ability to connect technologies, products and businesses is exceptional, but those who know him well attribute much of his success to the ease with which he interacts with people at all levels of an organization.  His combination of low ego and high desire to serve others is increasingly rare.

Among his other passions Randy is keen on photography, and his work has been featured in a number of exhibitions throughout the US Southwest.


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What Factors Hold Back the Widespread Practice of Systems Engineering? Randall Iliff explores this fascinating question in the April 2023 issue of PPI SyEN. His perspective as a founding member of INCOSE and current PPI Principal Consultant offers unusual clarity regarding the challenges we face […]

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