By Kathryn O’Neill, MIT SDM Correspondent
March 18, 2014
Daniel Mark Adsit, SDM ’13, discovered the importance of systems thinking—and of combining engineering with management—even before entering MIT’s System Design and Management (SDM) master’s program.
In his first job, as a website designer and developer for small nonprofits, Adsit observed that business leaders frequently have trouble understanding the language of technology and that technical personnel, in turn, often lose sight of business objectives. "I started out as a technical person, but I realized that’s not really going to get it done," Adsit said. "Solving real-world problems is what’s important."
That’s why he chose SDM. "I’d thought about an M.B.A. but it never really felt like the right fit for me," said Adsit, who came to SDM with seven years of experience working on large-scale information technology and supply chain integration projects in more that 15 countries.
SDM offered Adsit the opportunity to work with other mid-career professionals who shared his interest in using systems thinking to solve large-scale, complex challenges. "In SDM you get a rich experience working with people from different industries and different backgrounds," he said. "I’d spent most of my career in manufacturing and supply chains, so it was wonderful to work with people from healthcare, software development, nonprofit, and the military who are all experiencing analogous systems challenges."
Adsit joined SDM from Eaton Corporation, where he worked as a specialist evaluating, selecting, and implementing new system technologies to improve information visibility, enhance business capabilities, and streamline global order fulfillment. Although he entered the program as an experienced systems integrator, SDM was able to provide him with fresh insights.
"What I got out of SDM was a way to organize the experiences I’d had and make sense of them," Adsit said. "The key takeaway from the program is about optimizing the overall system rather than any particular piece."
Adsit graduated from MIT in February and launched his own company—Mergence Systems—to put systems integration tools and techniques, including concepts learned at SDM, to work helping companies integrate new technologies into existing systems. "I make sure technology is delivering value in a way that is relevant to stakeholders and those using the system," he said.
While Mergence Systems is still a new venture, Adsit is already making use of his SDM skills—particularly those taught in Systems Engineering, a required course. "Quality functional deployment is really helpful for relating a system’s technical requirements to user needs," he said. "And, Pugh analysis can be used for evaluating, selecting, and combining concepts based on those underlying requirements."
Coursework from SDM Leadership: The Missing Link is also proving valuable. "That course is all about trying to have better interactions with people so you can better solve their problems," Adsit said. "It’s such a meaningful course."
When he’s not on the job, Adsit enjoys traveling—particularly to Eastern Europe—but he says he’ll always be glad he spent time in Boston with SDM. "Being involved with something at MIT was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "SDM is amazing."