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A Systems Thinking Model for Cost Growth Mitigation: Finding the Leverage Points

Risk Track

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“The incompleteness and inconsistencies of our ideas become clear only during implementation.” This quote by Dorothy Sayers says much as to how cost growth happens. It’s no surprise to the casual observer that our world is getting more and more complex. Unfortunately, we are negotiating the 21st century with a cave man mind that does not deal well with complexity. As a result, project teams continually under scope the content and difficulty of their programs.

Systems thinking is a promising way for successfully dealing with the complexities of today’s project management environment. Systems thinking models the interrelationships of a system’s parts and studies their behavior over time. Systems thinking software is a total team collaboration tool, as it makes one’s mental constructs visible for all to see, and is flexible enough to be modified to support all points of view of the project team members. These attributes make for a powerful independent review team tool for investigating sick programs and developing get-well plans.

This presentation will detail the results (lessons learned, best practices, and demonstration of the software) of a pilot study aimed at building a systems thinking model for investigating the major causes of program cost growth and pinpointing the leverage points for their mitigation.


Michael Seibel
Mike Seibel is a Principal Analyst for MCR Federal, LLC, where he has various cost analysis and research duties and serves as a member of their Technical Leadership Network, which is responsible for ensuring the technical excellence of MCR products, tools, and processes. He joined MCR in Dec 2006, after a 31 year career in government aeronautical cost analysis. During his career he worked on numerous estimates, source selections, and independent review teams. Among the programs that he has worked are: F-15, F-16, F-22, C-17, B-1, B-2, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, Next Generation Long Range Strike, and numerous laboratory and concept studies. His professional interests include: cost research, cost risk analysis, knowledge management, cognitive biases, and systems thinking. Mike holds an MS in Social and Applied Economics from Wright State University. He is a member of SCEA and the Project Management Institute.