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PPI SyEN 80 Article 3





PPI SyEN 80 – 19 August 2019


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3.3    IS 2019 Update on the INCOSE – PMI Alliance


Randall Iliff



I’m currently the Point of Contact representing INCOSE on the alliance, and we are fortunate to have Stephen Townsend as the representative from PMI. Together we work to connect the two organizations and support the message of integration between them.

If you are new to this conversation, here’s a little background on the alliance:

In the Fall of 2010, John Thomas, INCOSE President Elect, met with leaders at the Project Management Institute. John’s observation of life at Booz-Allen was that the government market was increasingly asking for Systems Engineering Services or Program Management Services, but very rarely were they asking for both. He shared with PMI management that the two organizations must somehow be doing a disservice, since clients felt the need for one or the other rather than understanding that the real goal has always been an integrated PM-SE team.

A Strategic Alliance Agreement between INCOSE and PMI was signed on 15th Feb 2011 by the respective Presidents, Samantha Brown and Mark Langley. (See Appendix A.) A joint INCOSE-PMI white paper was published in September 2011 entitled “Toward a New Mindset: Bridging the Gap between Program Management and Systems Engineering” by Mark Langley, PMI President and Chief Executive, Samantha Robitaille-Brown, INCOSE President and John Thomas, INCOSE President Elect in INSIGHT and PM Network.

Research on PM-SE integration was performed for the alliance by MIT, and two very successful publications emerged. The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs brought work from the INCOSE Lean Working Group to market and went on to win the prestigious 2013 Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence. The 2017 book Integrating PM and SE is in the second printing. Thanks to the marketing horsepower of PMI, well over 100,000 PMs and SEs worldwide have been exposed to the integration message.

In 2017 INCOSE officially chartered the PM-SE Working Group, giving a recognized home to the general pursuit of PM and SE integration effort. This action freed the alliance from carrying both an INCOSE – PMI organizational relationship responsibility and one of representing all SE and all PM interested in better integration regardless of societal allegiance. Today each has a discrete channel and can work more effectively towards meeting INCOSE’s Vision 2025 goals.

Here’s what we are doing right now:

We are in the final stages of renewing the Memorandum of Understanding that formally describes the relationship between organizations, and I’m extremely pleased with the depth and level of interest displayed by the INCOSE leadership team. The alliance is clearly a high priority, and certainly has access to the resources and leadership support needed to do great things.

The work ahead of us is no longer to build a case for integration, but rather to effectively communicate that case to those in position to alter behavior across organizations. In a world filled with “solutions in search of problems” there is enormous background noise we must overcome. Even when someone does decide to listen, often their limited attention span doesn’t lend itself to communicating the richness and importance of our message.

These are formidable challenges to overcome, particularly for organizations that are accustomed to speaking to their own captive audience built up over many years.

I’ve spent a large portion of my professional career leading / helping to write major proposals, and as a by-product of that experience I’ve learned that a top-notch Executive Summary can be enormously powerful. In a few pages, extremely well designed and illustrated, the entirety of a multi-billion dollar program must be communicated along with a compelling rationale for taking action in the face of strong competition.

We face a very similar job with PM-SE integration – making an equally enormous opportunity real and compelling to people who otherwise don’t have time to read the details.

For this reason, we have adopted the near-term strategy of creating a compelling executive summary of the PM-SE Integration story. The goal is much like what INCOSE did with the VISION 2025 document, but even more tightly focused on a single target audience and message.

High-end proposal attributes like “win-themes”, “differentiation among competitors”, emphasis on “visual communication” reinforced by “selling titles” and only as a last resort reliance on text all apply here just as surely as they would to a major procurement effort. Further, the goal is not to create simply a document but a messaging structure that can be used effectively in both print and electronic form.

With that resource in hand our ability to engage decision makers will rise enormously, without it we will remain just another voice of reason crying in the wind.

I look forward to sharing progress on this activity and other alliance related effort throughout the year. If you share our passion for this topic please connect with PPI and myself on LinkedIn, and feel free to send me any questions or comments you may have.

All the best,

Randall Iliff


Kind regards from the PPI SyEN team:

Robert Halligan, Editor-in-Chief, email:

Ralph Young, Editor, email:

René King, Managing Editor, email:

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