Dr. Ricardo Valerdi

ricardo-valerdiOrganization: University of Arizona
Personal Biography: Dr. Ricardo Valerdi is an Associate Professor at the University of Arizona in the department of Systems & Industrial Engineering. Previously he was a Research Associate in the Engineering Systems Division at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on systems engineering metrics, cost estimation, test & evaluation, human systems integration, enterprise transformation, and performance measurement. His research has been funded by Army, Navy, Air Force, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Dr. Valerdi is the co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Enterprise Transformation and the Journal of Cost Analysis and Parametrics. He served on the Board of Directors of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). He received a Ph.D. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California.


Lecture Topic: Why Systems Thinking is Not a Natural Act
Competence in systems thinking is implicitly assumed among the population of engineers and scientists – in fact, most technical people claim to be systems thinkers. But this competence is not as prevalent as these assertions might lead one to assume. Controlled experiments show that systems thinking performance, even among highly educated people, is poor. This presentation provides a set of systems thinking competencies and demonstrates how these are not as common as advertised. We also discuss how these competencies can be measured.

The main thesis is that systems thinking is not a natural act because (1) evolution has favored mechanisms tuned to dealing with immediate surface features of problems and (2) the Western education system tends to emphasize reductionist approaches. We discuss the implications of the current state and provide recommendations for closing the gap between the demand and supply of systems thinking through the use of systems thinking flight simulators. Finally, key take-aways are provided for the application of systems thinking across a variety of scenarios.