STUDENTS

What Our Attendees are Saying About Our Instructors and Course Materials

  • Mack is an excellent instructor! Driving points home with examples will help the lessons truly stick (and are entertaining). Grading the exercises on entertainment value also helps lighten up the seriousness of the topic.

  • I've worked a few proposals recently and will now work to ensure users' input will be sought and used. My mindset before was to be stuck with trusting that the buyers would properly represent the users needs.            

  • The course was very good. My biggest concern is figuring out how to convince others to use this, but I think I can work through this.            

  • [Would like] more examples of good CONOPS, but since that isn't obtainable in 3 days, I understand. Course was very good; best vendor training I've ever had! It was engaging and entertaining.                                                                     

  • The examples the instructor used and real experiences added to the course and learning . . .                                                           

  • Best course so far I've taken at GD. I think this course is relevant for those who won't write a CONOPS. From my perspective - due to my position - I'd like to go a bit more into DoDAF/system architecture as well as maybe have a continuation course which would be a heavier writing workshop. Really enjoyable course. *Thumbs up!*    

  • Very informational and entertaining course. Can't think of anything to add.

  • Team-based exercises were enjoyable and useful. Teaching style of showing-wrong -thought-process-first was effective.                                                                  

  • Excellent presentation material and instructor. Appreciate the tailoring of material on the fly. . . . Would take other classes with Mack in the future. Would like to see if we could arrange this course for people at Dedham MA site.

  • Great examples/exercises given during each session. Sufficient amount of time spent on the key topics to drive the knowledge into our brains. I enjoyed the role playing exercises to try to voice your concerns/ideas for designing a system.    

  • The logistics of the course supported learning and instructor did a very good job of keeping the class engaged and active in learning.                                               

  • I enjoyed learning from you and thank you for working on our short timeline!  Giordana A., GITA Bikes

  • THANK YOU [Mack] for another stellar performance helping our technical staff learn more than they ever imagined about CONOPS along with ample doses of your history lessons, wit and practical life lessons!  It is always a pleasure dealing with a professional like yourself who is committed to our values and goals.  I look forward to partnering again soon.

  • To my cc’d MITRE colleagues, our staff are the big winners here so my sincere thanks for all your diligent efforts to allow this course to happen so quickly during a very busy time of year!  All totaled, we had 31 CNS staff from 11 sites and 20 departments attend – a testament to the diverse interest and demand for early Systems Engineering/CONOPS-focused training.  Thanks again for a great few days of training. The knowledge you shared is invaluable!

  •  I liked the real examples . . . great instructor knowledge . . . effective communication.  [So much information] instructor should lobby for 4-5 day course!  Instructor is top of the food chain.  He asked what we, personally, wanted to get from the training and [then modified] the syllabus for our class.  I liked the real life scenarios.  Please provide this class to our managers and SES and program/acquisition managers as part of change-management.

  • Great description of CONOPS, requirements, organizations.  Scenarios drive [students’] understanding.  Instructor was very informative and professional. Very enjoyable class.  All of DISA should take this [Systems] class . . . applies to acquisitions, operations, developers and many other organizations.  Thanks for caring for our military [people] . . .It shows!

  • Very good course.  Provided me with what I need to do my job more effectively.  Keep this training style.  Thank you very much for your examples and ideas to help me improve my work performance.  I will use the knowledge gained from this course to work and produce Training CONOPS for my team.

  • Great course that pertains directly to my DISA responsibilities.  Excellent exposure to CONOPS purposes, preparations, building and stakeholder interests.  Please build a training course on DISA’s Service Operations Annex uses, purposes and content.  All OP4 Integrators should take this course.

  • Thanks, I needed this course to understand [CONOPS]. I was . . . in the dark before this class.

  • The content and instructor were very interesting and helpful.  All PMs and Contractor SMEs [at DISA] should take this course.

  • Please build a training course in how to build a [DISA] Service Operations Annex (SOX).

  • Team environment is a good learning tool.  Very professional instructor.  Our leadership needs this course!

  • Great Class!  Empowering!  Get our upper management and Program Managers into this course.

  • Material was organized and easy to follow.  References were appropriate and extensive.  Good conversations.  The intellectual challenge was just far enough outside by comfort zone.  The examples and case studies were real-world and I could relate to them.

  • If all organizations were introduced [to this material] this could be implemented into our processes faster.

  • I hope you can convince DISA to send PMs and senior managers to this course (mandatory attendance).

  • This course demonstrated how to have effective relationships amongst the IPT, especially between the CTR and GOV.  The exercises were useful, fun and challenging.

  • Mack did an exceptional job and brought real life experiences into the course.  Teach this to all DISA contracting officers and to contracting’s senior management (for better networking/relationships with IPTs).

  • Past experience stories helped to put the course information into context.  The exercises were very helpful and very good.  One weakness - - - too short - - - we could have used another day of this training!

  • Enjoyed the real-world experiences and stories - - - helped to put the course into context.  Mack has clearly done his homework on how federal agencies work service contracts.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this course and look forward to trying out the concepts with my team.  We will have better acquisitions if we invest the time upfront and we can get better results if we have all stakeholders involved.  I understand the importance of this course.  I highly recommend we offer these courses again in FY17, and to a broader audience.  (Need better advertisement of these courses at DISA.)

  • This is an excellent and resourceful class . . . The instructor explained the function of [service acquisition] contracts so clearly and with lots of [examples], so a non-contracts person like me was interested.  I would like to follow up with the second [TechCONOPS] course. Don’t change this course - - -  keep the same style and method.  Very effective.

  • I enjoyed every minute in the class.  Thanks for sharing your experiences and answering all our questions. 

  • Class was very lively and energetic.  Projects were fun and showed exactly how to head-up and manage a project. 

  • Great clarification of all stakeholders involved in the acquisition process.  I’ll be on the watch for additional courses on site [DISA] and in the area.

  • Mack . . . . You are a wonderful instructor!

  • Memorable; helpful, as I will likely apply what I learned.

  • Good flow of the material

  • Good interaction and hands-on.

  • Great class.  Projects were fun.  I didn’t fall asleep or have to stand at the back or drink copious amounts of coffee.

  • Very well organized.  Binder with material is a great touch.  I am very impressed with the course.  I received more than expected.

  • I did enjoy attending this CONOPS course.  Mr. McKinney indeed entertains the class with examples and exercises.

  • Only presented what was relevant to the class based on [attendees’] performance and observation (he adjusted the course on the fly)

  • Great stories told, and great material and application.  Mack improved the course by tailoring it to what we needed; Excellent job.  Mack’s real life stories on the training we received were GREAT!  The practical applications in teams were GREAT!!

  • Interactive, informative, lively

  • Instructor keeps it entertaining

  • Good course that covered CONOPS, Acquisitions, Stakeholders' roles and impact of Stakeholders

  • Enjoyed the supporting details and examples.  Instruction very effective.

  • Great knowledge of instructor/material/templates, easily understood by personnel with no experience in development of CONOPS

  • Course is very well organized:  detailed examples; Instructor is very effective and knowledgeable; will be difficult to replace; Excellent course!  Received more than expected.  Should be mandatory for Project Managers and Action Officers at least every 2 years.

  • Good outline and organized material; plenty of spirited discussions. Liked the supportive AV’s and team Projects. Highlighted areas that weren’t well known.  Great examples and well discussed.  Great Job, please come back.

  • The way the information was presented helped with absorbing all of the information.  I liked the group exercises.  I liked the mix of technical and fun.  I liked the videos.  Learned a lot of valuable information and tools.

  • Mack was great and very knowledgeable.

  • Class was easy to follow and good participation.  Awesome class!  Thank you for opening my eyes to another side.

  • Mr. McKinney was very thorough with sharing the information necessary to succeed as an Acquisitions Rep.  Very informative class.

  • Great information as it relates to both Government and contractor requirements.

  • The course is a very good course.  Mr. McKinney is a very knowledgeable instructor and presents a good class. 

  • I have the military culture that Solid Thinking maintains.  I wish this course was available to all Contracting Officer Representatives as it provides highly valuable view (point of view) that all COR’s need.  Excellent course, again I wish this course had been available to me years ago.  I’ll definitely use the information, tools, and concepts from this course in my work in the future.  I will be looking forward to more courses from STC in the future.

  • Supplemental material, especially videos of real-world examples/scenarios, were helpful.  Mini group sessions working on examples were also insightful.

  • Course covered all the important information related with Service Acquisitions.  Instructor explained this training class clearly and I got a good understanding.  Services Acquisition team work was a good exercise.  Development Team’s goals was a good exercise.  Keep it up, Good Work.

  • Very good class.  Going to be able to use portions of this in my daily job.

  • Good course with good implementation resources.  My only fear is not being allotted enough time and/or program $ to implement and take advantage of the full extent of concepts.

  • This course was well structured and included the content needed for a successful experience.  I also came away with new ideas, which is always good.  Mack was a great instructor.  Thanks.                      

  • This course exceeded my expectations.  As a new engineer, this gave me a completely different way of thinking about systems I work on daily.  Very worthwhile and highly recommend for any system engineer!

  • Very good class with a very knowledgeable instructor.  Would be great if GD could adopt policies from this class.

  • Overall very good course, entertaining and engaging.  Handouts and binder will be useful in the future.  Would like to see more from the system architecture slides. . .  

  • Course covered plenty of examples and activities to supplement the learning.  Due to its effective nature it helped drive home concepts that were confusing or difficult.

  • This is without reservations, the best COI applicable to daily and long term assignments.  The COI is cross-discipline, with emphasis on technical.  Instructor, Mack McKinney is seasoned, knowledgeable and presents a detailed comprehensive perspective on CONOPS.  This is typically [an] overlooked and unfunded, however critical, part of products and BD.

  • The instructor was great and provided us with excellent examples both good and bad that were real world scenarios.  Course materials were excellent and the exercises conducted were well thought out and made us think.  Provided us with excellent templates and guides to reference for future use.  I would recommend making every Systems Engineer take this course.  Along with the PMs & PTMs.  Over all this was one of, if not the best course I have taken.                                                               

  • Enjoyable, very well communicated.  Learned a lot, extremely useful.  Very long - three full days is tough.  Everyone should be CONOPs training - following [this] curriculum would be very useful.                                                            

  • Course is more than just CONOPs - a lot of information is good basic system engineering - Do not short sell it.        

  • The instructor was highly knowledgeable and provided an excellent delivery of the materials.  The class/group exercises were both entertaining and informative.  This course was well structured and excellently executed.

  • Should be required training for all Systems Engineers in leadership roles.  Should be mandatory for program managers.                               

  • Course is a requirement for [our] System Architect program, but rarely offered.  Good course, should be offered again and to broader audience.  . . . Assignments, examples & handouts very useful.

  • Liked the examples provided (both good & bad).  Appreciated the levity during classroom assignments . . . ..  Provided advice about presentations, document structure, how to organize, very useful.    

  • Exercises were very useful.  Would have been nice to mix up groups a little bit and include people from different sites on each team.                                                     

  • The team exercises were excellent to solidify the points taught during the class. 

  • Easily the most beneficial GDAISU course I've ever taken.  Every engineer should get this training ASAP!  The course was thorough, full of great content and entertaining.  The instructor was both passionate and extremely knowledgeable.  I especially appreciated the numerous case studies.  I am a better engineer having taken this course; I will take lessons back to my program and try to spread the knowledge - but I fear I will be a lone voice in the crowd unless more people get the training. - Roger P.

  • . . . Provide CONOPS to Senior Mgt and our SSP customer.  The examples of poor CONOPS and consequences were very valuable!  Using a real GD CONOPS for analysis might be useful.                                                                

  • One of the best courses I have ever had.  Activities and humor are great additions.                                                                         

  • I worked my butt off on a Advocacy [level] Technical CONOPS over the past several weeks (different program) employing what I learned from you and your team.  Further, I’m very interested to learn more about the information you recently sent me, and [that] of course, I read several times:  Overview of Concept Development and Systems Engineering Documents, rev. 12 Feb 2015.

  • (from abbreviated 2-day course attendee) . . . .  I think a third day would do wonders. . . .Overall this class was fantastic, honestly I didn’t expect much walking in, but I was quite taken back by the course.  I don’t know if the class would have been the same with two different people.  Confidence in this life is key and I feel the course instilled more confidence in all who attended.

  • The classes were amazing and taught by instructors who had firsthand experience in a lot of business aspects and if they didn’t, then they answered the questions with many years of wisdom and knowledge.  GREAT COURSE!

  • The class Entrepreneurship Track was on point.  Before I started this class I didn’t know any of this information. Now that I’m finished I have more of a foundation and clear mind to move forward. Both instructors Mr. McKinney and Mr. S. had different but key ideas and successful knowledge that made this class a real learning Experience.    

  • Mack and his associates were referred to us as a 'go to' company for technical writing help.  My company was putting together a $124M proposal, the largest we had ever gone after.  We realized after a couple of major set backs that we needed help or we were not going to make our deadline.  On short notice, Mack and his team worked tirelessly, through the Christmas and New Year holidays to help us produce a winning proposal.  He and his team were available 24/7 until the finished product was sealed and delivered.  He even followed up months later to find out the outcome of the submission.  Without his team, we would have never been able to meet the deadline.  Mack and his associates are true professionals who you can count on no matter what the circumstance.  I would recommend his team anytime for any work.  Karen Hassler, Goldbelt

  • I recently released a CONOPs developed in parallel with an early requirements and design concept development effort. This CONOPs was initially resisted, believed unnecessary by several principals. When it was completed two months later (using the outline and training provided by SolidThinking), we had identified a number of mismatched (and unspoken) expectations, and identified on the order of forty new requirements. One of the key original skeptics was quoted, "This is one of the best CONOPS I've ever seen". The CONOPs is now a key system document.

  • Mack you are doing three great things: 1) showing GOVs and CTRs how to deliver working systems to warfighters, on time and at affordable prices 2) showing GOV folks how to buy services from CTRs (because otherwise we screw it up royally) and 3) showing everyone it is possible to support the US Warfighter in spite of a badly broken acquisition system.  Bravo Zulu!  JJ

  • Thanks again for your help today, Mack.

  • Mack and Doug did a great job teaching our class.  You guys rock!

  • Don’t change anything on these courses!  You are providing precise, accurate information and it is badly needed.

  • Please train every SES and GS-15 in the US Government.  They really need this training.

  • Thank you so much for teaching this course. It's already gotten me into trouble.  I'm starting to get mgt to change their way of thinking and talking about CONOPS and to understand they really want to produce a Technical CONOPS mapped to the OCDs.  I'm going to slip OpCon on them next. (DISA Manager)

  • I continue to use the material and concepts you taught in your CONOPS class that I took, wow, I guess way back in 2008; time flies.  I just pulled out the outlines and material a few minutes ago from that class to assist in a physical security CONEMP I'm working.  Still extremely valuable knowledge and material.  Figured I should drop you a line and let you know.

  • . . . a hearty Thank You! for providing the class to DISA. This has been one of the best classes I've attended in years and will benefit everyone that attends and plans to use the material in their daily work activities.

  • I've started to include some of the material and questions (SPOC sheet) in our Program Engagement with PM's at DISA. I've informed my leadership that all personnel in our section should attend this course. . . Thanks again for the class and I look forward to having more from my section attend the course!

  • I found this course to be immensely valuable in developing a CONOPS for a current project

  • I found the group exercises and examples to be very helpful.  I also enjoyed the discussion and examples found in the binder.  Tailoring the course to the government [tying CONOPS to acquisition actions] was beneficial.

  • This class provided everything to prepare students to develop a CONOPS.  The material was greatly appreciated as well as the tools.

  • Great class.  Exercises allowed us to explore real life CONOPS examples.

  • This course should be mandatory for everyone in the agency, to include SESs.  Great job!

  • [Now] have all the tools I need to review or write a CONOPS.  It hit the mark on just what I needed.

  • Information received in this course is extremely valuable when my team constructs CONOPS.  The practical exercises were especially valuable because it provided creative thinking and team building.

  • This course was very helpful with helping me understand how to build a CONOPS.  Most importantly I know to ask “What are you trying to do?”

  • . . .  Various directorates in DISA produce enterprise capabilities with Government PMs and contractor support. This discussion will help provide ideas and healthy discussions as each team works to understand the communication flow and working relationships as projects evolve.

  • Great approach and atmosphere . . . [enjoyed instructor’s] providing and explaining format(s), providing logical and useful definitions and useful techniques for developing and writing meaningful CONOPS, and practical exercises were good and helped make key points and enhanced learning.  Excellent course.  Using big portions for ongoing CONOPS development for current DoD client.  (Dave Barile, Col. USMC, ret,  Project Manager, Battelle)

  • The course provided a well-developed approach to CONOPS development at every conceivable level.  The logical progression from conceptual to fielded CONOPS provides more than a checklist for writing, it provides a well-rounded education.

  • Thanks again for the training.  I found it to be a valuable exercise and I took away materials that I am already applying directly to both internal & external work at my company. . . I presented a handful of slides to our staff this past week regarding my takeaways from the course.  The CONOPS structure/outline resonates with several of the efforts we currently have under execution and/or development.   (Ed Midden, Manager, Dynamic Analytics & Test, Inc.)

  • "I have used the CONOPS general outline for my projects, but I have also used it when I wrote a directive about my unit's recent re-organization.  I applied the technique you mentioned in the CONOPS course - I cut and pasted what I had written into the CONOPS outline which showed me what I still had to fill in to make sure my document was complete. . ."  (Dean B, Canadian Government)

  • “Solid Thinking’s CONOPS training course is outstanding!  When my division needed to produce a CONOPS on a revolutionary surveillance system that was urgently needed in Afghanistan and fast-tracked for acquisition, I reduced risk by sending some of my very best writers to Solid Thinking’s CONOPS training.  We then wrote a great CONOPS that zipped through the approval wickets.  A few months later, during a Pentagon meeting about the development of this sensor system, I watched LtGen Dave Deptula, the Air Force's Director for ISR, hold up our CONOPS in a meeting and say “Have you read this CONOPS? ... It clearly tells you what you need.” (Bill Brei, Col., USAF, Ret)

  • Mack was probably the most effective teacher I have encountered in a course like this.   Most times in "long" classes, people are half asleep after a few hours.  Everyone in this class was still highly engaged at the end of this 3 day class.

  • The class itself was very effective in my role of supporting BD, IRAD, and architecture/concept work.  I would love to see more people in the BD, IRAD/etc. organizations exposed to this.                                                                    

  • Excellent instructor.  Engaging, knowledgeable and funny.                                                 

  • A very well constructed class.  Good mixture of content, examples, projects, teamwork and engaging supporting info like videos and real world examples.  Instructor is a clear expert in the field, addresses everyone by name, provides real-time feedback, encourages engagement and participation.  Excellent class.                                                                       

  • "Very much enjoyed the pace/concept. . . How defense contractors can fit this into overall contracts.  Most contracts are awarded without these [CONOPS].  [I will] take a brief overview with vocabulary-expectations [to our] with management.

  • Good use of exercises. . . I feel this training is absolutely excellent but will be lost in its application based on the culture of this facility.                                                

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this training.  Not only do I feel that I learned much about what CONOPS are and how to properly use them, I also found the setup of the class and the course instructor to be excellent.  Use of good examples, humor and class participation all led to a good experience.

  • My previous uses of concepts of operation have been in support of establishing requirements for a system prior to system design.  In the context of this course we should write CONOPS with a system design in mind . . .      

  • The course was very good.  Mack's experience made the course. I strongly recommend that this course be made available again . . . It would be good if an "Executive Summary" of this course [could] be provided to [deleted]  Senior Management so they know what we learned and not reject our ideas out of hand.                                                              

  • Well organized class.  Kept everyone interested.                                                             

  • Very passionate and experienced instructor.  Makes all the difference.  Good practical examples from real projects/programs.                                                                 

  • I definitely got a lot from the training.  Just this week I used your template for a Single Page Description to get consensus before starting a new project.  Also, we have a requirement to create a full-blown CONOPS for a new capability, so we'll be putting the whole course to use real soon.  (Systems Engineering Manager at a major defense prime)

  • I do hope we can run another group through your class.  It has given me several new approaches for communicating ideas to customers and coworkers.

  • The instructor set a good tone and pace for the course content.

  • Mack McKinney’s instruction was excellent, providing detail where necessary and avoiding “rabbit holes” that could have taken the course off target.

  • The presenter was knowledgeable and kept the audience’s interest. 

  • The training was one of the best, if not the best, training course at Lockheed Martin. It fills a significant void in our corporate training and should be provided to everyone even remotely involved with requirements.

  • I was pleased with the course in every respect.  I was not expecting very much, but everything turned out to be exceptionally well done.  It was very informative.

  • Especially excellent:   1-Handout material.  2-Instructor knowledge.  3-Course content.

  • . . . This training was very helpful to me from my JCTD execution perspective but I can easily see how it would help anyone attempting to manage client work from a "project" perspective where a focus on operational results and presenting them logically to a client is a central objective.  Mack had timely, relevant examples and easily tailored presentations to our mixed audience.  This really was good stuff.

  •  Great to see you’re still going strong.  I attended your course through MITRE last summer and was absolutely blown away.  One of the best courses I’ve ever attended.  You have a great system and I’m confident you’re continuously improving it.

  • Hope all is well with you.  I just wanted to say again how I appreciate your class, and I’m starting to consider how I can implement this at my current client, [deleted] . . .  My team regularly states that they’re not sure what is expected for quality – I’m [eager] to see how they react when I actually have a response that requires them to do far more than they expect.  J

  •  DOD and INCOSE need to include this topic [CONOPS training] in their DOD Acquisition Guidebook and INCOSE SE [systems engineering] handbook.

  • Felt very comfortable in the course.  [The instructor] made everybody feel at ease.  Overall, fabulous course.  Learned many new concepts.

  • This course is going to prove valuable for me as a CONOPS writer.  From the very basic definition of a CONOPS to the most complex topics taught in this course, it is all valuable.  Mack’s teaching style is fantastic!  The case studies and examples presented really hammer home the teaching points.  I’m truly excited about putting the knowledge gained through this course to use!  (former US Army Sergeant Major, and how often do THEY get excited about a training course?!??!)

  • Thanks again for a great class.  I’m going to recommend all of my folks take it.  Who do you recommend I talk to in our L&D department to put in a plug for you?

  • First and foremost thank you very much for your patience, dedication and wisdom [during] this training.

  • . . .  we loved what we learned from this course so much that [name] and I want to share it with our teams here at [company] through a brownbag technical session.  We would love to reuse much of what you’ve presented during the course but need to get an approval from your company and direction on how to present the information during the our presentation . . . [we sent them slides and handouts]

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the class.  I will let our management here know how worthwhile it is so maybe we can either have one here [Charlottesville] or just attend ones in Baltimore in the future.

  • Thank you so much for all three courses. I was very lucky to be one of your students and I learned many things, especially in the second course which is closely related to my job. Also in the third course which will help me deal with RFIs and RFPs in a professional way.  Thank you so much, Sir. (Coalition Partner in Arabian Gulf)

  • Had the privilege and pleasure of learning from you and your CONOPS Masters course a few months back.  Highly useful in many areas inside and outside my work.

  • I appreciate the information I learned at the course and your teaching style lends to a fun and interesting environment that actively involves the students.  At no time did I feel bored with the material. 

  • Mack, thank you so much for really explaining everything and making that class fun and interesting.

  • Fabulous course Mack!  Thought I was going to be bored to death.  Boy, was I wrong!  I think I really get it (at least at the entry level)! 

  • I very much enjoyed your course.  Good material, well presented.  The exercises were helpful, I especially like the last one of helping the customer get it right.

  • Thanks again for a great course! Your course is one of a very few I've taken over the past several years that will provide a tangible improvement in our business processes.

  • I was just applying some principals from the course this week to help develop a conops for our team to work together on a portfolio assessment project.

  • It was a fun class and [I] learned a lot about writing a CONOPS.  Plus the stories were great.

  • Thanks so much for the course.  I had a great time and learned a lot.  The group I am with is already talking about working on some CONOPS for upcoming programs.  Thanks again for all the help and your time.

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