Transitioning to new faculty position at the Technical University of Denmark

DTU logo smallAfter four years at MIT, I am transitioning to a new position starting October 2013. I have accepted a tenured Associate Professor position at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). DTU is the leading technical university in Scandinavia, and one of the leading technical universities in Europe.

I will stay affiliated with MIT as a Research Affiliate, which will allow me to continue my research work as well as advise graduate students at MIT.

At DTU, I will join the Engineering Management Department, and build a research group on Engineering Systems. We will focus on the integration of systems engineering, project management and policy making to better plan, build and operate complex engineering systems, such as transportation systems, energy generation and distribution systems, or aerospace and defense systems. My teaching will focus on topics of engineering program management and systems engineering.


Feature article about my work

PM Network - June 2013

The cover story in June of PMI’s flagship magazine, PM Network, is an article on my work on Lean Management: “Cut Waste, Save Money: The Lean Enablers Equation“.

It is based on my work of applying Lean Management principles to better running large-scale engineering programs. A key resource, if you are interested in more, is my book “The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs”, which you can download as a PDF at MIT’s digital library. We also just won the 2013 Shingo Research Award for the book.

If you are interested in getting involved in our work, please visit the website of our MIT-PMI-INCOSE Lean Community.


“The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs” Receives International Recognition for Contributing to the Global Discipline of Operational Excellence

2013 Shingo Research Award
2013 Shingo Research Award

My book, the “Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs“, received the 2013 Shingo Research Award! Please read the full press release below.

The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence, part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, has selected “The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs” by Josef Oehmen, et al., as a recipient of the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award.

“Receipt of the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award signifies authors’ significant contribution to the body of knowledge surrounding operational excellence,” said Robert Miller, executive director of The Shingo Prize. “”The intent is to motivate others to learn from them.”

“The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs” is based on the findings of a one-year project executed by experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Council on Systems Engineering(INCOSE) during 2011 and 2012. The guide identifies 43 “lean enablers” or tools that organizations can utilize within their project management efforts to increase efficiency and eliminate wasteful activities. Surveys completed by programs that implemented the tools reported improvements in cost, schedule, quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

“‘The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs’ offers careful examination of effective programs and illustrates how collaboration between program managers and systems engineers, paired with the adoption of lean enablers, contribute enormously to the success of projects,” said John A. Thomas, president of INCOSE. “We’re honored that The Shingo Prize recognizes the Guide’s use of lean thinking to remove waste and deliver value to customers.”

“What I find so compelling about the Guide is that it’s wisdom is deeply rooted in the real-world experiences of active systems engineering practitioners,” said George Rebovich, Jr., director at The MITRE Corporation. “The Guide’s best practices and lessons learned are authentic and immediately usable. It’s a must-have resource for every program manager and systems engineer.”

By “challenging” or applying for an award, authors invite a group of accomplished professionals and trained examiners from The Shingo Prize to thoroughly review their publications. The examiners select the publications they think are worthy of recognition.

“On behalf of PMI, I congratulate the MIT-PMI-INCOSE team on their receipt of the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award for their work on ‘The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs,'” said Mark A. Langley, president and CEO of Project Management Institute. “This team clearly demonstrated the added value that can be delivered through integrated program management and systems engineering.”

The authors will receive the award during the opening social of the 25th Annual Shingo Prize International Conference held in Provo, Utah, the week of May 6-10, 2013. The opening social is the beginning of this four-day event featuring a selection of workshops, plant tours, keynote speakers and breakout sessions designed to provide ongoing knowledge, insights and experience for organizations in their pursuit of operational excellence.

About The Shingo Prize 
The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence is named after Japanese industrial engineer, Shigeo Shingo. Dr. Shingo distinguished himself as one of the world’s thought leaders in concepts, management systems and improvement techniques that have become known as the Toyota Business System. Drawing from Dr. Shingo’s teachings, The Shingo Prize helps companies and organizations increase their efficiency and effectiveness by developing cultures that better tap the talents of their employees. It also awards and recognizes organizations that demonstrate exceptional results from applying its philosophy and recognizes authors who have contributed important insights and applications of the principles it teaches. Those interested in more information about The Shingo Prize or in registering to attend the 25th Annual International Conference may visit

Authors of “The Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs” include Josef Oehmen, Bohdan Oppenheim, Deborah Secor, Eric Norman, Eric Rebentisch, Joseph Sopko, Marc Steuber, Rick Dove, Kambiz Moghaddam, Steve McNeal, Mohamed Ben-Daya, Wolf Altman and John Driessnack.

INCOSE 2012 Working Group Award

I am very pleased to report that I received the 2012 INCOSE Working Group Award as the academic co-chair of INCOSE’s Lean Systems Engineering Working Group. The award honors the collaboration I organized between MIT, INCOSE and PMI to “produce the first document which bridges Systems Engineering, Program Management and Lean” with the publication of the Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs. The award was presented on January 29 at the 2013 INCOSE International Workshop in Jacksonville.

The group is now hard at work to further expand our Lean engineering program management work. We are developing a more in-depth description of the 43 main enablers, creating a set of Lean metrics to track engineering program progress and success, develop workshop and training material, and explore customization and organizational change management practices around implementing the Lean Enablers. You can stay up-to-date (and subscribe to our mailing list) at

Successful Visiting Professorship at TU Munich comes to a close

TUM Institute for Advanced Studies
TUM Institute for Advanced Studies

I spend the last three months as the TÜV Süd Foundation Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Munich. I was hosted by the Institute for Advanced Studies and the Chair for Product Development. And what fun it was (and I even got some work done…)! A big thank-you to everyone at TUM who made my stay so enjoyable and productive.

I did get to do a lot of talking (which some people claim I enjoy too much) at 14 guest lectures and research talks at various universities, conferences and companies. My personal highlights included the interaction with the TÜV Süd community, which are not only a “reliability watch dog” interested in risk management, but are also interested in the broader societal impact of technology. I was honored to be invited to speak at the prestigious lecture series “Science and Society – Meet with Excellence” at TUM, where I gave a talk on what I call “technology racism”. Nuclear energy is a good example, particularly in Germany, where politicians and interest groups can say whatever they want to further their particular ideology, without ever having to stay close to the facts. More importantly, I also talked about our role as scientists and engineers to move society a tiny bit closer to “technological enlightenment”.

My stay was also productive in terms of research papers, and I was able to get three papers published, submit three more and work on 9 drafts together with TUM PhD students. I also developed and taught a new 12-lecture graduate class, “Publishing in Engineering Journals”, which was very well received by the students.

Design Society Risk SIG shaping up nicely

A bit over a year ago, I started the Special Interest Group on Risk Management Processes and Methods at the Design Society.

The group is shaping up very nicely:

  • We created a website for the SIG to provide “one-stop-shopping” for information about the group and hosting our information resources for  academics.
  • We now have over 40 members from around the world, which is a great number one year into the game.
  • We created a shared and open literature database with over 130 key references on risk management in product design and development.
  • We are holding regular (monthly) online meetings that have developed into a great forum for presenting and discussing research ideas and research in progress

If you have any interested in risk management in the context of product design and the management of engineering programs, please join us. The focus of the group is on the academic community, but we welcome members from industry as well (if you are willing to put up with all the academics!).

“Guide” very well received by systems engineering community

My Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs was presented last week at the 2012 Annual INCOSE Symposium. It is a pleasure to report that it was very well received by the community. INCOSE President John Thomas hailed it as a “strong leadership piece” in his welcoming speech at the Joint Leadership Meeting. Gary Roedler, Chair of INCOSE’s Corporate Advisory Board, referred to it as an excellent result of the INCOSE-PMI-MIT collaboration and something that INCOSE should be doing more of. I was obviously very pleased by these kind and encouraging words. And after Terence Cooke-Davies held up and praised the Guide during his keynote speech, the remaining hardcopies provided by PMI were gone in a few minutes.

For everyone who was not able to score a hardcopy, there are still plenty of copies available for download.

I am also pleased to report that I was elected during the symposium as one of the co-chairs of INCOSE’s Lean Systems Engineering Working Group.

Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs

Download the "Guide"

The “Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs” has been officially published today by PMI, INCOSE and MIT’s Lean Advancement Initiative. It can be downloaded here (7.9MB) from MIT’s online library.

The publication is also announced by a joint press releases from LAIPMI, and INCOSE.

For more information and to join the mailing list of the Joint INCOSE-PMI-MIT Lean in Program Management Community of Practice, please visit

Edited by Dr. Josef Oehmen, the “Guide” summarizes the findings of the Joint MIT‐PMI‐INCOSE Lean in Program Management Community of Practice that are based on a 1‐year project executed during 2011 and 2012. The community was made up of selected subject matter experts from industry, government, and academia. The findings reported in this guide are based on known best practices from the literature, program experience of the subject matter experts, and input from an extensive community of professionals.

The findings of the Joint Community of Practice were extensively validated through community and practitioner feedback, multiple workshops at INCOSE and PMI conferences, LAI‐hosted web‐based meetings, and surveys of the extended professional community. The survey results clearly show that programs that use the Lean Enablers show a significantly stronger performance in all dimensions—from cost, to schedule and quality, as well as stakeholder satisfaction.

The core of this document contains (1) the 10 themes for major engineering program management challenges, and (2) the 43 Lean Enablers with 286 subenablers to overcome these challenges, better integrate program management and systems engineering, and lead engineering programs to excellence.

The main engineering program management challenges that were identified and addressed By Lean Enablers in this guide are: 1. Firefighting—Reactive program execution; 2. Unstable, unclear, and incomplete requirements; 3. Insufficient alignment and coordination of the extended enterprise; 4. Processes are locally optimized and not integrated for the entire enterprise; 5. Unclear roles, responsibilities, and accountability; 6. Mismanagement of program culture, team competency, and knowledge; 7. Insufficient program planning; 8. Improper metrics, metric systems, and KPIs; 9. Lack of proactive program risk management; and 10. Poor program acquisition and contracting practices

The 43 Lean Enablers (LE) and 286 subenablers for Managing Engineering Programs—actionable best practices— are summarized in six categories that represent the six Lean Principles (LP): LE 1.x: Respect the people in your program (LP6); LE 2.x: Capture the value defined by the key customer stakeholders (LP1); LE 3.x: Map the value stream and eliminate waste (LP2); LE 4.x: Flow the work through planned and streamlined processes (LP3); LE 5.x: Let customer stakeholders pull value (LP4); and LE 6.x: Pursue perfection in all processes.

In the news, again

PMI’s magazine PM Network is running a featured article in its current issue on the collaboration between MIT, PMI and INCOSE that I started last year. It talks about the collaboration, as well as about our “Year 1” deliverable, the Guide to Lean Enablers for Managing Engineering Programs. The guide will be available shortly. You can find additional information on the PMI website dedicated to the collaboration, or on the website of the joint community of practice.