COFES 2015

COFES 2015: Stepping Back to See the Big Picture
As engineers and software professionals we are good at focusing on the thing at hand–the design challenge; the need for a new tool; our competitive situation. Rarely do we consider the bigger world in which these issues reside. This year, COFES takes a giant step backwards in order to broaden our view: to think about thinking about the bigger picture. The nature of our work requires that we spend the majority of our time getting things done, tightly focused on execution of our tasks and plans. And while we do that, we are continuously faced with choices, big and small, along the way. Too often, we make those decisions in the narrow context of what we have in front of us. Unless some outside force pushes a broader context into our consciousness.

For the past 15 years, COFES has been that place on the calendar that we set aside to lift our heads from the daily grind and consider our work in a broader context. But the broader context of our world is changing at an accelerated pace. Once a year is not enough – we need to continuously keep in mind how the context is evolving as we make those day-to-day decisions. At COFES 2015, we will explore how we can step back and bring the rapidly changing broad context of the big picture into our day-to-day decisions.

The domain of COFES is the realm of software for design and engineering.
Our customers are those that create the world around us. They design the roads and bridges, the buildings we live and work in, the things we use and see around us.

The place to impact all of this is at the planning, design, and engineering stage. It’s where the leverage is. Our customers have the leverage to change the world.

The COFES community provides the tools to these people who have that leverage.

We’ve been able to absorb much change in the past. But today, with increased population, increased infrastructure, and increased global interdependencies, we have lost much of our flexibility to absorb such change without hardship. The reasons for this are understandable and to be expected. With our larger population we have less room to maneuver and have significant investments in infrastructure – all a result of unconstrained growth without concern for long-term consequences.

What’s worse, we may be having an impact that is resulting in such change coming more quickly – within a lifetime rather than over generations.

Change will come. And it’s not just weather that we have to adjust to. Changes will be painful to many – deadly to some; others will reap unexpected windfalls. The balance will shift.

What can we do about it? We can choose not to ignore it. We can think about longer term implications of our decisions and have longer term horizons for our planning.

We provide the tools to the people who have the leverage to implement change. We can help them innovate better.

At COFES, we ask “What can we do to make our customers more effective innovators?”

It’s not just about sharing best practices — the bigger question is “How can we innovate in the development of better practices?”

Let’s meet face-to-face and discuss these critical issues. We’re all in this together.