Book Title:  SYSTEMS ENGINEERING: Fifty Lessons Learned
Author: Howard Eisner
Publisher: CRC Press Taylor& Francis Group
List Price: $24.95     Format: Soft cover, 119 pages
Publication Date: 1st edition (January 14, 2022)
ISBN: 978-0-367-53430-1
Reviewer: Tracy Gilmore
Review Date: March 2023



Have you ever wanted to spend a few hours learning from a subject matter expert?   Or wondered what nuggets of wisdom someone with 50 years of experience in systems engineering could share?   If so, then this is the book for you.   Reading SYSTEMS ENGINEERING Fifty Lessons Learned is like having lunch with a wise friend and lingering for the afternoon because he has so much knowledge to share about systems engineering and project management, and how the two are intertwined.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The 50 lessons in this book are thoughtfully organized into 5 chapters:  Technical, Management, Idea Based, People Oriented, and Miscellany.   There is a bonus chapter with an additional Top Ten Lessons.   In total, 60 great lessons from an expert in the field.

Each lesson is followed by a relevant story, a more in-depth explanation, or additional context to make the lesson more relevant. A “References and Recommended Reading” section is included in many of the lessons.


This book is written in first person, and truly feels like you are having a conversation with the author to get his personal advice for your career.  The author’s depth of knowledge and sense of humor are evident throughout the book.  The way the book is organized, it’s easy to pick up and read a few lessons at a time, or you can devour an entire chapter in one sitting.

Chapter 1 (Technical) sets the stage for the rest of the book, with lessons on fundamentals, cost effectiveness, and integration.  These themes are re-visited throughout the book.   The case studies and real-world examples included throughout the book make it more interesting, and easier to understand the applicability of each lesson.    Even if you are not a rocket scientist, you can relate to the stories about the U.S. Space Shuttles.

The Chapter 2 (Management) lesson on measurement resonated with me.  The section on Project Measurement, with a well-thought of list of what needs to be measured, expressed in layman’s terms rather than in project management vocabulary, made it easy to see the business value of measurement.   While some lessons in Chapter 3 (Idea Based) are quite technical, there are still valuable lessons for project managers such as Lesson 25 “Try to Master New Tools and Use Them as Needed”.

Chapter 4 (People Oriented) and Chapter 5 (Miscellany) have much to offer in terms of general business practices, including Lesson 30 “Listen Your Elders” and Lesson 31 “Leadership”.  Lesson 46 “Risk Analysis and Mitigation” left me wanting to learn more, and did not disappoint with the included References and Recommended Reading.

The book concludes with the author’s Top Ten Lessons.   These lessons re-visit key themes from throughout the book with just enough detail to inspire the curious reader to read, explore, and never stop learning.

Highlights: What I liked!

My favorite lesson was Lesson 32 “New Boss”.  It gives a funny and accurate description of many of the bosses I’ve encountered during my career.   Not only does the author identify 12 types of bosses, he provides practical suggestions for working with each type.  The lesson concludes with an overall list for how to interact with all bosses that is good advice for anyone in the workforce.


To read entire Book Review, click here

How to cite this work: Gilmore, T. (2023). Systems Engineering: Fifty Lessons Learned, book review, PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/pmwj128-Apr2023-Gilmore-Systems-Engineering-fifty-lessons-learned-book-review.pdf

About the Reviewer

Tracy Gilmore

McKinney, Texas, USA


Tracy Gilmore is a PMP®-certified Operations Director with more than 30 years of experience in Information Technology supporting clients in the financial and manufacturing industries for large IT companies in the United States.  She has held a variety of roles including operations director, account manager, program manager, project manager, product manager, Y2K consultant, mainframe consultant, conversion manager, and mainframe developer.  As a project manager and a developer, she has participated in all phases of application development and support, including estimating, analysis, design, construction, and implementation.

Tracy is a member of the Project Management Institute having acquired her PMP certification in 2002.

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