Master Certificate in Systems Design and Project Leadership


Certificate Overview

  • 6 month duration
  • 12 two-week courses
  • 5-7 hours per course

High-performing product managers must deftly navigate the interconnected networks in today’s organizations. Leading a product development team to meet customer needs requires more than technical expertise. It requires vision, a foundation in systems design, and an intimate knowledge of people: those on your team, and those who will use your finished product.

This certificate consists of 12 two-week courses. The comprehensive program provides you with foundational skills to use a proven, structured methodology for defining and communicating design requirements across the organization; gain confidence in product design without needing expertise in math or engineering principles; and learn tools to effectively manage people, performance, and contingencies.

  • Utilize management/leadership research and theory to define a set of key success factors and behaviors for the project manager
  • Overcome the typical challenges associated with different forms of the project manager’s role
  • Discuss challenges facing project teams and explain the role of the project manager in overcoming these challenges
  • Analyze project teams for potential conflict resulting from cultural, functional, personality-related, or learning-style differences
  • Apply the earned value method for assessing degrees of project completion
  • Create accurate forecasts to communicate time and budget required for project completion
  • Describe the basic types of strategies for exercising influence; develop an understanding of the conditions that would make each appropriate; and build skill in applying those strategies to a variety of influence opportunities
  • Describe approaches to resolving conflict and explain how your mode of addressing conflict does or does not support these approaches
  • Discuss the benefits of the Getting Design Right process
  • Use a step-by-step process to translate customer needs into technical requirements
  • Generate a customer value proposition (CVP)
  • Describe your product or service in a way that enables a team of people to work together on its design
  • Use a formal risk-management technique to complete an analysis of potential design failures and to implement corrective actions
  • Project Management Professionals (PMPs)
  • Functional managers who lead project teams or who supervise individuals (such as engineers) involved in product and service design and development.

Faculty Authors

Frank Wayno
Peter Jackson

Certificate Courses

Become a project leader and learn how to apply leadership skills to minimize uncertainty and maximize the contributions of your team.

Course Description

A seasoned, successful project leader is both a master of process and an effective people manager. Project leadership requires the ability to make tough decisions, overcome personnel issues and to exercise authority where needed--all while dealing with technical challenges and the restraints of time and cost.

This course defines the functional role of a project manager and provides a framework for the development process, from brainstorm through to production. To be successful you need to balance technical expertise with a firm grasp on team dynamics and interpersonal relationships.

This course is beneficial to Project Management Professionals (PMPs) who seek greater responsibility in leading projects and setting up broad organizational initiatives. Regardless of your formal role in project management, you'll develop leadership skills to become a better project manager and successful leader.

This course has been approved for 6.0 Professional Development Units (PDUs) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Learn how to leverage a team's collective intelligence by promoting cohesion and cooperation. Manage the human challenges of building a motivated, productive team that is invested in seeing a project through to successful completion.

Course Description

A work team's real potential for success lies in its "collective intelligence": the sum of a workgroup's individual skills, behaviors and competencies. The more integrity a team has, the better positioned it is to handle uncertainty and see a project through to successful completion. It's role of the the project leader role to create a work environment where a group's collective intelligence can be leveraged to the greatest effect.

This course introduces research-grounded theories behind group dynamics and teaches how to create and maintain group cohesion. Learn to facilitate group problem-solving, and manage the most common challenges to effective group functioning, including a lack of cohesion, the onset of groupthink, and dealing with virtual teams.

Project leaders who have the theoretical and practical knowledge to identify and capitalize on a group's collective intelligence tend to be the most successful at achieving desired outcomes.

This course has been approved for 6.5 Professional Development Units (PDUs) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Understand how difference and diversity can benefit or fragment a project team. Learn how individual characteristics and apparent contrasts can actually be leveraged to profound effect.

Course Description

Difference and diversity can strengthen a group's collective skills and competencies, but can also lead to dysfunction if not properly managed. The best project leaders take potentially fragmentary elements within a group and use them to their advantage. Overcoming differences and knowing how to manage the collective intelligence of a group can make for a highly effective project team.

This course focuses on the three main areas of difference—national and functional culture, personality, and learning style—and how different perspectives can create misunderstanding and misalignment within a project team. You'll work with a variety of organizational frameworks and toolsets designed to bridge differences and develop processes to overcome disconnect, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Properly managing collective intelligence and dealing with difference are two key skills associated with a high-functioning project leader. This course will teach you how to develop and master those skills.

This course has been approved for 6.0 Professional Development Units (PDUs) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Learn how to monitor and control the performance of projects, teams, and individuals to ensure the successful completion of project objectives.

Course Description

How do know precisely whether or not a project is on the path to success if you don't have any benchmarking tools in place? This course introduces you to several powerful performance metrics and analytical tools that can help you determine whether project goals and objectives are being met.

You'll learn how to use Earned Value Management, a highly effective project control system that uses measurement tools like breakdown structures, network diagrams, schedules, budgets, and Gantt charts to ensure that things are on track. Your ability to report on progress and project status will greatly impact your reputation as a project leader.

If a project falls off target, the project leader is responsible for maintaining a tight focus on tasks that add to the value of a project, and establishing a framework for keeping team members and other stakeholders aligned with project objectives.

This course is anticipated to be approved for approximately 6.0 Professional Development Units (PDUs) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Get projects accomplished by assessing and asserting your personal political power. Maximize your ability to exercise influence without authority.

Course Description

Workplaces are inherently political. Project leadership can be an especially political endeavor; it's about exercising influence over others to complete tasks and accomplish goals, with or without the formal authority to mandate action. Whether you work in a matrix organization or lead a cross-functional team, your goal as a project leader is to organize the actions of your team members to ensure the successful completion of a project.

Project leaders spend a considerable amount of time building networks and relationships among stakeholders and influencers. Learn how to apply your interpersonal and leadership skills and strike a balance between your sometimes conflicting role as individual contributor, functional manager, and project manager.

This course introduces you to the Power Motivation Inventory, a diagnostic self-inventory model that will assess your capabilities as an influence agent and prepare you to leverage your abilities to great effect. The ability to exercise influence without authority is among most important attributes of a project leader.

This course has been approved for 6.0 Professional Development Units (PDUs) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Learn how to resolve conflict without eliminating the creative tension that so often benefits high-performing organizations. Manage interpersonal conflicts to ensure harmony and productivity in the workforce.

Course Description

Conflict is inevitable. The best project leaders have a well-developed capacity for managing and resolving conflict.

Conflict can come from any number of directions: project complexity, misaligned stakeholders, diverse team members, scarcity of resources, and matrix organizational structures—which, by definition, place two sets of managerial values and priorities into tension with each other.

This course focuses on the approaches that a leader can use to resolve conflict. Participants will assess their own response to conflict using the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument to determine which approaches are most consistent with their own profile or appropriate to specific situations.

Principled negotiation, an interest-based technique popularized in the best-selling book Getting To Yes, provides a framework to separate people from problems, focus on their interests and generate and evaluate options. As you emerge from the course you'll be able to diagnose and resolve conflict in a manner that enhances team cohesiveness and improves the likelihood of successful results.

This course has been approved for 6.0 Professional Development Units (PDUs) from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Learn how to create sustainable competitive advantage by fine-tuning your design process. Adopt a systems approach to product and service evaluation and development.

Course Description

The commercial viability of a product or service is largely dependent on the integrity of its design process. System design begins with, of course, a bright idea. But it requires evaluation of that concept to determine its marketability, its potential for internal buy-in, and its technical feasibility before planning for production.

This course introduces you to customer-focused design, where behavioral psychology meets product analysis and service usage. Learn how to brainstorm and choose a concept, write a mission statement, identify internal stakeholders, analyze the customer experience, and define functional requirements for your product or service. Engineers and technical specialists will learn how to determine if a product or service is worth developing, and if so, how best to apply talent and resources to its development.

Learn how to identify and quantify customer demand. Create a design process and that maximizes your product or service's potential for commercial success.

Course Description

Did you know that you can determine a product or service's potential for commercial success before going to market? By properly identifying marketplace demand and setting up a rigorous evaluation and design process, you can develop a product or service that best serves your customers' needs and desires and stands the greatest chance for commercial success.

You'll learn to identify and measure customer demand; benchmark the competition to gain market advantage; rank and weigh product objectives; and define technical requirements for production based on the potential market. This course introduces field-tested, repeatable methods for designing a commercially viable product or service that positions your company ahead of the competition.

Create a high-value product or service by optimizing the design space and improving your design processes.

Course Description

Turn that brilliant concept and into a viable, market-ready solution by examining your design concept from multiple perspectives. Learn to review the requirements and components of your concept in greater detail. By optimizing the design space and streamlining the design process, you can increase efficiency and actually create more value for your customers.

This course will teach you how to take a raw concept and create a polished design. Avoid the pitfalls of hurrying the process or neglecting to examine your concept from all angles. Learn how to research competitor products in depth; collaborate with customer experts; and perform patent searches all of which help to move your design one step closer to market.

Clear communication and well-prepared systems architectures enable design and development professionals to work together seamlessly and productively.

Course Description

Carrying a concept to completion is no simple task. Design and development teams need precise information about function, requirements, interfaces, and project components. A concept cannot be put into production until the system architecture has been reviewed for integrity and technical variables have been taken into account.

Clear communication among design stakeholders can be especially challenging. Learn how to establish a common language and remove ambiguity from the process to ensure a smooth hand-off from the concept design group to the development team.

Because an array of stakeholders, from engineers to managers, are typically involved in this transition, seamless communication and clear understanding of the design architecture are instrumental in developing a successful product or service.

Identify and eliminate risk factors in your design. Employ analytical tools to properly assess and mitigate risk in your development process.

Course Description

Nothing about designing a product or service is entirely risk-free. In systems design, risk is always present, so it's more a matter of identifying, quantifying, and properly managing it. To gauge a product or service's potential for failure, first assess whether the design addresses requirements, then test and evaluate it to determine if it's capable of reaching performance targets.

Learn how to reduce the severity of negative outcomes and become a problem solver. Run a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) in order to quantify and manage risk and review real-life risk management scenarios. When flaws in concept or design processes are discovered, you'll know how to deploy the FMEA to prioritize corrective measures.

Risk will always be present. Prevent wasted development budgets, avoid future sales difficulties, product recalls, even bad press by identifying, quantifying and mitigating risk early in the development process.

Create a design architecture and implement control measures to increase quality and efficiency as you execute your project plan.

Course Description

Be more creative, productive and efficient in your development projects. Create tight parameters in your project architecture and exercise rigorous control over processes and you'll not only enjoy better performance; you'll prevent wasted time, resources, and inventory.

As you move to production, your improvements to the system design will be instrumental in reducing, if not eliminating entirely, quality problems, product recalls and lawsuits.

As the final course in the certificate program, you will emerge with a functional and customized system design plan that you can apply directly to your business.

Alumni Testimonial

I really enjoyed the pace. The program required the right amount of dedication without consuming work-life balance. The instructors were knowledgeable and the group activities were challenging. The course content is up to date, very informative and the delivery through eCornell’s platform was amazingly smooth.
Wilber B.
Management and Program Analyst. U.S. Government