A different approach to building effective teams

by Elise Stevens | Futureproof Your Career Podcast

What if we applied the principles of systems engineering to humans, in the same way they’re applied to code or steel?

In this podcast, Elise Stevens speaks to Belle Walker about how to take a systems engineering approach to building effective teams. Belle is an organisational change consultant with a background in mechanical and systems engineering.

Her approach does away with the idea that all engineers and technicians are introverted types who withhold information from extroverted product managers. Instead, it considers how to build behaviours systematically to support communication and information-sharing within teams and organisations.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • Systems engineering is engineering with interfaces; ensuring that complex systems are designed and integrated smoothly in order to reach a common goal or purpose.
  • A systems engineering approach to team building considers the team’s goal, its problem statement, the resources available and any constraints.
  • Team building is traditionally focused on motivation and inspiration. Systems engineering helps to provide the tools and systems to achieve that.
  • The goal of the team should be distinct from the goal of the business. The team does need to work towards the business goals, but in a particular area. The team goal should be reframed into an action.
  • The motivations, strengths, and areas for growth of each person can be considered in terms of resources and constraints.
  • Other constraints will include the team’s budget, as well as pre-determined members of the leadership team.
  • Communication between two people can be considered a human interface.
  • Start-ups have a tendency to overlook constraints.

About Belle Walker:

Belle Walker is the Founder and Lead Consultant of Belleview Consulting where she takes her clients from Friction to Function by engineering organisational change. Complementing the work of business coaches, who focus on goals and strategy, and executive coaches, who work with hearts and minds, Belle’s work centres around the structures and processes that connect a team to the big picture priorities. With clients in industries ranging from tech to non-profit and from professional services to cannabis, Belleview Consulting is an invaluable resource for any organisation in the throes of growing pains or ready to pivot their internal systems to match their new products or markets.

Prior to focusing full time on Belleview, Belle was a Director of Engineering at HERE Technologies, an industry leader in digital mapping. There, she built several successful teams, merging project managers, data scientists, software engineers, systems engineers, and more. She also received a patent for the Quality Index, a mechanism that allows digital maps to be incorporated more effectively into autonomous vehicle environmental models.

Belle began her career at Google, where she built a nation-wide aerial photography operation and supported the Street View vehicle roll-out. After Google, Belle built on her Mechanical Engineering bachelor’s degree from Harvard with a master’s degree from USC centred around the application of systems engineering and operations research to organizations. Her work demonstrated that the principles apply equally well to systems of humans as to systems of code or steel.

Belleview Consulting leverages Belle’s unique experience across engineering and operations to recapture lost efficiency and employee engagement. 

You can connect with Belle on LinkedIn.