How to learn to ask – Part I

by daniel on October 6, 2008

As posted before, a good system engineer is capable of asking the right questions, questions that provoke reasoning, understanding and maturing.

There are many sources for questions that can be categorized:


  1. Past experience: systems, integration, programming, etc.
  2. Learning from external sources: formal and informal.
  3. Communicating with colleagues: meetings, brainstorming.

The first two are long term studies and help to create a good base for initiating the third.

Let’s look at the basic points where conflict can occur and where the difficult questions will arise:

  1. Where different systems interact: interfaces, methodologies, etc.
  2. Where there are many unknowns: missing requirements, missing solutions, “down worry attitude”
  3. Where there are many owners: infrastructure, communications, inputs and outputs, etc.
  4. Where the risks are greatest: performance, functionality, development, etc.

What is in common for there items? These items represent the places when more than one person can affect the outcome, where the designer / system engineer must work as a coordinator and leader. The roles of system engineer will be discussed in a future post, but lets just assume that coordination and system overall view are under the scope of responsibility. The questions at the end surround one specific theme – will this work as a system?

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