In the mid-1960s, Ford Motor Company had an audacious plan: not only to enter the professional car racing circuit, but to defeat Italy’s Ferrari racing powerhouse. To achieve that goal at 24 Hours at LeMans, the most prestigious European endurance race, Ford hired two American racing legends, Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. This story is captured in the current Oscar-nominated movie, Ford vs. Ferrari.
Things are changing at Ford. The rise of “the smart car” has spurred customer demand for automation, electric vehicles, and other intelligent automotive features. To keep up with the rapid pace of change in the industry, the 116-year-old auto giant has had to make significant shifts in its portfolio of vehicles – eschewing the sedan in North America, while launching new SUVs and crossovers. New variants and features have required a more rigorous systematic approach across all engineering functions. To improve efficiency, lower variable costs, and reduce error as it launched a new portfolio of products, Ford improved its Systems Engineering (SE) approach in three key ways:
Professionals are under more pressure than ever to drive complex projects under high-pressure conditions, as organizations increasingly opt to ditch traditionally siloed structures in favor of a “Dynamic Work Design” approach. To enable better organizational problem solving, technical professionals and organizational leaders in particular must adopt a new analytical framework that recognizes existing organizational sources of power and culture.
In 2014, a 40% price drop brought more to the oil and gas industry than just lower profits. For one company, Royal Dutch Shell (Shell), it ushered in a comprehensive shift in thinking about the development approach for new capital projects and technology. In 2016, Shell included MIT in its efficiency improvement and energy transition plans by enrolling its first cohort of engineers in MIT xPRO’s four-course program, Architecture and Systems Engineering: Models and Methods to Manage Complex Systems.