Systems Engineering Wisdom: The Worth of Advice

Systems Engineering Wisdom: The Worth of Advice

INCOSE's corporate advisory board takes on government and industry challenges

Calendar icon 11-07-2019
Profile photo Don York

My children are either out of college or finishing up their schooling, but they still come to me, on occasion, seeking my advice. I tell them, “My opinion is free, advice will cost you, and wisdom is really expensive.” As a result, they are very careful in choosing their words when they come to Dad for his input. The systems engineering industry is not so different; there are lots of opinions out there, but advice and wisdom are not as readily obtained.

So how does advice differ from an opinion? Advice is defined as guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative. Thus, an advisor is a person who gives advice and is typically an expert in a particular field.

INCOSE, the International Council on Systems Engineering, is the professional society solely devoted to the promotion, application, and enhancement of the systems engineering discipline and profession. Considered the world’s authority on systems engineering, INCOSE and its senior leadership rely on the experience, advice, and wisdom of seasoned practitioners from more than 100 organizations that form its Corporate Advisory Board (CAB). I am the CAB chair and sit on INCOSE’s board of directors.


Systems engineering team in classroom
Good advice is hard to find, so take it to heart when you come across it.

Wisdom on a higher level

While my children come to me looking for advice on a job application or wording their resumes, INCOSE needs a different kind of advice.

Although its membership is made up of thousands of very logical, practical, and well-trained systems engineers, INCOSE leverages the CAB’s wisdom not for the basics but for the elevated perspective. The organization looks for the strategic viewpoint gained by experience and hard-won wisdom—the kind that comes from practicing sustainable systems engineering in complex, critical, and ever-evolving environments.

From the CAB, INCOSE gets insights on:

  • Important systems engineering challenges that industry and government face: autonomous systems, healthcare systems, agile life-cycle development, systems security, sustainability, systems engineering certification, and more.
  • Where and how to invest time and energy helping to shape INCOSE’s strategic direction: identifying and prioritizing how best to advance the discipline of systems engineering in industry, science, and academia.
  • Guidance for INCOSE’s more than 40 working groups: recommendations for products that these working groups should be producing, sparking genuine collaboration on priorities.

SAIC, as a member of INCOSE’s CAB, is helping to provide this advice, strategic guidance, or recommendations concerning prudent future action for INCOSE and its 17,000 members. We advise and we listen to the advice of other members, keeping our engineers and INCOSE relevant for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

A famous proverb states, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” INCOSE is listening.

FURTHER READING: More from our systems engineering expert Don York.

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Posted by: Don York

Chief Systems Engineer / SAIC Fellow

Don York is chief systems engineer within the National Security and Space Sector at SAIC and a SAIC Fellow with more than 40 years of experience in the design, development, engineering of advanced technology systems.

He is recognized in the industry as the go-to professional for systems engineering, applying his systems engineering expertise across various domains. As a principal technical expert for system development metrics, Dr. York is part of a team that helped to develop the Government Accountability Office’s Technology Readiness Assessment Guide, published in 2019.

Dr. York has made contributions to the field of systems engineering in education, industry, and the community. He has taught systems engineering at the graduate level and has co-authored and presented numerous technical papers.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in systems engineering and is a Certified Systems Engineering Professional. Dr. York has been a member of INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering) for over 25 years, where he currently serves as the chairman of INCOSE’s Corporate Advisory Board.

Read other blog posts from Don York >

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