Rick Hefner

October 14, 2017, 09:00-14:00

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Caltech, Powell-Booth bldg, room 120
1200 E California Blvd. 
Pasadena, CA 91125

Systems Thinking & Networking Event

TOPIC:  Systems Thinking & Networking Event

WHEN:  Saturday, October 14, 2017,  9am-2pm

WHERE:  Caltech, Powell-Booth building, room 120, 
1200 E California Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91125
A campus map is located here. Visitors may park in any unreserved space, free on weekends.

WHAT: What is systems thinking?  How does systems thinking, or the lack of it, affect you and your work?  Come to our Systems Thinking Tutorial to learn more about systems thinking from Dr. Rick Hefner, Program Director for the Caltech Center of Technology Management Education, participate in a Systems Thinking Roundtable, enjoy lunch while networking with fellow INCOSE-LA members and wrap-up by 2 p.m.

COST:  No Charge.

SYSTEMS THINKING ABSTRACT – by Rick Hefner, Ph.D., Caltech

 Systems thinking is an approach to understanding a system by examining the interactions among its components and between the system and the external environment. Systems thinking is essential to proper systems engineering, because it provides a framework for understanding and influencing the system’s behavior. The ability to design systems relies on applying systems thinking rules to the definition of the system boundary, structure and interfaces to predict system performance.

This workshop will discuss the fundamental concepts, tools, and methods of systems thinking, and describe how their application distinguishes systems engineering from more traditional product development. Participants will apply these techniques to various systems engineering problems in this hands-on and interactive workshop.

SYSTEMS THINKING ROUNDTABLE ABSTRACT – by Sue Gabriele, Ph.D., Gabriele Educational Materials and Systems
Over the last twenty years, colleagues and I have been introducing a new multifunctional activity in workplaces and schools within their existing ongoing meetings. Called the “Co-operated RoundTable,” this activity is a proven new way to increase communication and an engaging way to deliver and develop the users’ agenda. It is based on research in education and organizational change as well as time-tested successful models.  It was field-tested in two international conferences--the International Systems Institute ( and the International Society for the System Sciences (, and then developed in four 4th grade classrooms in Los Angeles County--at Pennekamp School in Manhattan Beach, and at Foster School in Santa Clarita. Results surpassed our expectations. The RoundTable was found promising as a user-friendly program suitable for schools, workplaces, and other social systems, capable of fostering systemic renewal.  Systemic renewal defined as: first, awakening new energy in people and social systems; second, possessing three minimum sufficient conditions for systemic change/renewal: (i.e., ICE or inclusive--of everyone in the system; continuing--e.g. weekly, monthly; and emancipatory--accelerating positive learning. We propose that: Just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 30 authentic viewpoints in 30 minutes.

RoundTable sessions last 30 or 60 minutes, users’ choice. A 60-minute RoundTable consists of 5 minutes of readings or scripts including a topic of the day, followed by 55 minutes of individual comments or learning reports--time distributed equally among all present. Once established, a different volunteering participant facilitates each session.

In 2016, the RoundTable was renamed the Systems Thinking RoundTable and held daily at the INCOSE IW in Torrance, California, by the Systems Science Working Group. In 2017, it was convened in the INCOSE IW in Torrance and the INCOSE Symposium in Adelaide, Australia.

Rick Hefner, PhD, currently works at the Caltech Center for Technology and Management Education (, where he helps industry professionals and high-tech companies understand and apply systems engineering concepts. He has over 40 years of experience in the aerospace, communications, electronics, and health sciences industries.  This includes work with AeroVironment, Applied Physics Laboratory, Applied Materials, Ares Management, Boeing, DRS Technologies, Halliburton, Herbalife, Honeywell, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, John Deere, L-3 WESCAM, Maytag, Motorola, Pacific Bell, Raytheon, Schlumberger, Southern California Edison, St. Jude Medical, Toshiba, U.S. Navy, and Xerox.

Dr. Hefner is credited with over 100 publications and presentations.  He earned his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, in applied dynamic systems control, and his MS and BS from Purdue University in interdisciplinary engineering.

Dr. Sue Gabriele of Gabriele Educational Materials and Systems ( is an innovator and consultant in systemic school and workplace renewal. Her expertise builds on twenty-years as a high school teacher. Following her teaching career, she turned to graduate school seeking answers to problems in public education. Finding solutions in general systems theory and control systems, she earned her PhD in “Human Science: Social and Institutional Change” by creating and researching the "RoundTable” as a seed for social system renewal. GEMS RoundTables are currently being convened in many organizations: weekly by fourth grade teachers at Pennekamp in Manhattan Beach since 2000; daily in week-long conferences of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) since 1998, and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) since 2016; and monthly with the Association for Talent Development (ATDLA) and the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI-LA) since 2012—which is convened at American Honda in Torrance.

9:00 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.            Systems Thinking Introduction, Dr. Rick Hefner
10:55 a.m. - 11:05 a.m.           Break
11:05 a.m. - noon        Systems Thinking Roundtable, Dr. Sue Gabriele
Noon – 1:00 p.m.        Lunch and networking
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Wrap-up, next steps

Questions? Contact if additional information is needed.