How the systems thinking framework helped me learn the ropes of a new job faster and more effectively

After working for a little over a year at Amex as a Product Owner I accepted a new role in a company that creates software products in the pre-construction industry. Accepting the role at Amex I did not have any experience in being a product owner nor did I have any experience in the fintech industry. This time around things are a little easier as I have product management experience from my previous job, that coupled with the systems thinking framework really helped me to learn faster in unknown territory.

In my previous role my main focus was creating UI for the customer care professionals who would then interact with it to provide the best customer care to Amex customers. The scope of my work this time is much larger as I am responsible for 2 desktop applications that help estimators perform a takeoff and then obtain the estimates for the job and put them in an official proposal in order to bid as fast and as accurately as possible, with the hopes of winning more contracts of course.

Fintech and pre-construction are definitely 2 completely different industries and I am working on a completely different system that has completely different users, different needs, different requirements to the system, different architecture etc. Something that definitely helped me to learn my way around the new systems at my new job is the systems thinking framework.

Couple of work artifacts that I created as I started my new job :

  1. Life cycle of the the main system-of-interest (which in my case is construction object). Creating a life cycle really helps to :
    1. Define stages of the life cycle as groups of practices, as a result of which the state (configuration) of the system of interest changes. A typical example of the stages of the life cycle of a system are conception, design, creation, operation, and liquidation. Example of sub stages of my project specifically would be picking a project for development, hiring main architects, preparing blue prints, job announcement by owner/developer, looking for the project to bid, preparing for the bidding, actually bidding etc.
    2. Define roles, practices, technologies, final work artifacts prepared at each stage. In my case the substage of preparing for bidding includes roles like general contractors, trade contractors, estimators, and owners. When it comes to practices it involves takeoff, estimation, and risk management. Final work artifacts would be official proposals with lists of materials, quantity and pricing from an estimator provided to the owner as part of the bidding process.
    3. Define at what stage of the whole life cycle my system (engineered system/system in hand) comes in.
    4. What are other systems that surround my system (operation environment) that are involved in creating the system of interest.
    5. How my system of interest interacts with other surrounding systems (operation environment)

2. Resume of MY system (engineered system). After life cycle of the system of interest is developed it is much easier to dive into your specific system in hand. Here, the same framework is used but from the point of view of my system in hand which is takeoff and estimation softwares.

3. Lastly I will be very honest I am so new to the construction industry and everything that has to do with that so learning the subject area is also on my priority list. Some college textbooks from amazon that have to do with the estimation process helped although they are a bit outdated and I have noticed it is pretty difficult to find any books related to that subject. I am thinking of taking some intro classes for estimators.

Overall I am extremely excited for this new role because of the bigger scope and because we are really trying to promote innovation in the pre-construction industry and re-imagine it to serve the needs of its users in the modern world. We are working on some extremely exciting things including bringing AI to the takeoff process in the next year and I cannot wait to be challenged and grow to be a better PM.  

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Wow, Liya, thanks for sharing amazing results!

Have you shared your approach with anyone in your company? What was their reaction?

Btw, which course did you finish to achieve this?

PS I wonder if is this is the first post in EEM blog in English…