Certified Essence-In-Use Practitioner Training (The Course)
Minimum price
Suggested price

Course Info

This course includes 1 attempt.

Essence is the first software engineering method independent framework developed specifically for software practitioners to help them solve their own problems without the need for external consultants.


John Troy, Retired Program Manager, Rockwell-Collins

“This online course demonstrates the power of the thinking concepts of Essence in a clear, logical, and succinct manner. The case studies illustrate the thinking process with questions, tips, and considerations all summed up neatly with an example of the Lens of Essence. A key focus is on the user’s organizational context and the application of checklist items. These items provide the insight and experience of others who have been in the crucible of solving complicated and complex project problems, and should enable the student to grasp the power of Essence as a critical thinking framework based on lessons learned. The course contains interesting presentation topics as well as personal stories from the author. Time invested is well spent.”

Bob Epps, Senior System Architecture Manager (Retired), Lockheed Martin Corporation

"The Certified Essence-In-Use Practitioner course got me thinking about an intriguing problem I haven’t thought about in years. How do we teach our young engineers to become effective critical thinkers, which is so important to solving the new and challenging problems we face in today’s world? The best problem-solvers often can’t explain how they go about solving a problem, and they usually don’t use linear thinking. When I was learning about the Essence checklists in this course and how to use them, including the fact that there is no prescribed order, it reminded me of heuristic techniques I learned years ago during Architecture Assessments at Lockheed Martin. Merriam-Webster defines heuristic as an aid to learning, discovery or problem-solving by experimental, and especially trial-and-error methods. It relates to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (such as evaluation of feedback) to improve performance.  Essence checklists give you hints, rather than a sequence of steps. The power of this approach is that it gives people the freedom to zero in on a solution from varying perspectives. This is the essence of what critical thinking is about. When you look at a problem that is new you want to be able to use past patterns and experiences, but only as a guide. The power of Essence and the Essence-In-Use training course is that it gives practitioners a new tool that allows them, and even encourages them, to take different paths, but at the same time converge on a practical solution." 

Jim Grebey, President, Diligent Inc

“I recently completed the Certified Essence-In-Use Practitioner training. I originally took the course with some hesitancy as I am no longer in the software development business. My own business (Diligent Inc.) provides operations management services targeted towards a wide range of small and mid-sized businesses. A large part of the services provided by Diligent requires risk and opportunity assessments of our client businesses. To my great surprise, the Essence approach I learned in this class provides a practical management tool that I have been able to apply directly to the resolution of our client operations management problems. I found the class easy to follow and, even though most of the clients we work with are not involved in software development, the Essence training we received is already helping us offer more structured, more cost-effective, solutions that fit all the business models we deal with. I highly recommend Essence training for operations managers, program and project managers and other professional service analysts with responsibility for solving business problems.”

Michael Oakes, PhD, Former Process Improvement Team Leader

"The Essence-in-Use Practitioner’s Course is a tremendous learning aid to understand and use SEMAT’s Essence model. Essence helps teams evolve their way of working.  Essence is a living approach that can be adapted so that it learns as your team learns and reflects on what they are actually doing rather than what they thought they should be doing.  Whether you are a new start-up or an older large or small company and whether you have already invested efforts in a particular methodology or certification you can and you will benefit from the Essence-in-Use Practitioner’s Course. This Course leads you through the Essence model and shows how to develop critical thinkers on your teams and in your company regardless of the size of your teams. As you progress through the Course you will learn from the many case studies from real companies and how Essence could have or did help them. You learn about measurements, risks, requirements management and a host of areas covered in other models, but with Essence you also get down to the checklist level and the course explains through many examples how to effectively apply the checklists. After completing the Course Test you will have attained a working competency level in using Essence to coach others in their professional development and team building skills.I reviewed this course and immediately understood how these principles, and checklists have served me through my time as the Process Improvement (PI) Team Lead in a software development company and as a professional military fighter pilot and now commercial airline Captain. I understand checklists and the need for procedures and practices that identify risks and assist myself, my crew and the teams I lead with solid critical thinking and threat and error management; it applies to protecting people and equipment as much as it does to software development. I wish the Essence model had been available when I was a PI Team Lead to help my company develop better critical thinkers.  The Essence Model provides the framework.  The Essence-in-Use Practitioner’s Course teaches you how to effectively use it!"

In this course you will learn:

  • practical and proven tips and techniques to use the framework to assess weaknesses your team currently faces including skill levels, stakeholder issues, requirements issues, architecture/design issues, testing issues, risks, way of working and team collaboration issues.
  • fundamentals you can take with you throughout your career and continue to use regardless of the specific characteristics of your project or organization environment including project size, complexity, policies and culture.
  • how to effectively use the framework in a non-intrusive way referred to as "stealth Essence" to cut through less important issues rapidly pinpointing the real factors getting in your team's way.
  • how to use the Essence language (pattern construct) to describe and use "thinking patterns" which provide a mechanism to share practitioner experiences and tips.
  • how to put "micro-surgical like" changes in place to help your team rapidly get past common stumbling blocks without disturbing the parts of your team's way of working that are already working well.

A key benefit this course will provide to participants is that you will learn how to quickly identify and isolate common problems that often slow team's down so you can solve these problems quickly allowing your team to focus on the new and more interesting challenges that will keep you on the leading edge in your field.

The course is intended for all project participants including software developers, systems engineers, testers, analysts, technical leaders, managers, and quality/configuration management support personnel.

It is recommended that participants have at least some previous industry project experience, but not required.

Numerous case studies of using Essence to solve common project challenges where timely and measurable performance improvements were realized are shared.

What does it mean to become a Certified Essence-In-Use Practitioner? It means you will become trained in how to use the Essence framework in a thinking capacity to coach yourself, a peer, or a less experienced team member. This course is really about critical thinking and decision-making to aid timely and measurable performance improvement.

If you would like to learn more about the background of the course creator and instructor, listen to the following 3 minute video:


If you are still wondering if this course is for you, listen to the following 4 minute video.


If you would like to try a free sample of the course go to


Essence is an Object Management Group (OMG) standard. The Essence framework was developed by a group of volunteers working under the Software Engineering Method and Theory (SEMAT) initiative. To learn more about the background of Essence and SEMAT, or to learn how to access the full Essence Specification (including the full length Essence checklists), refer to: https://www.semat.org.

For group/organizational or yearly licensing rates, or for on-site tailored Essence training, contact Paul E. McMahon at pemcmahon@acm.org.


Course Material

  • Introduction
  • Course Parts and Length of Related Videos
  • Taking the Course and the Final Test
  • Starting the course
  • Part 1A Introduction and Overview
  • Part 1B Background on Thinking Patterns, Stealth Essence and Examples of Essence in Use
  • Part 2A Motivation for Essence and Patterns for Timely and Effective Performance Improvement
  • Part 2B Case Studies related to Requirements, Testing and Architecture/Design
  • Part 2C Motivation for Patterns as aid to becoming an Expert Fast, and Case Studies related to Culture Change, Stakeholders, and Meeting Commitments
  • Part 2D Wrap up and Conclusion
  • Part 2E Backup: A few more short “thinking patterns” and questions
  • Course reference material
  • Part 1A Introduction and Overview – Slides only
  • Part 1B Background on Thinking Patterns, Stealth Essence and Examples of Essence in Use – Slides only
  • Part 2A Motivation for Essence and Patterns for Timely and Effective Performance Improvement – Slides only
  • Part 2B Case Studies related to Requirements, Testing and Architecture/Design – Slides only
  • Part 2C Motivation for Patterns as aid to becoming an Expert Fast, and Case Studies related to Culture Change, Stakeholders, and Meeting Commitments – Slides only
  • Part 2D Wrap up and Conclusion – Slides only
  • Part 2E Backup: A few more short “thinking patterns” and questions – Slides only
  • Final Test
  • icon/quiz Created with Sketch.
    Quiz 12 attempts allowed


    • Paul E. McMahon (pemcmahon@acm.org), Principal, PEM Systems (www.pemsystems.com) has been an independent consultant since 1997 helping organizations increase agility and performance. Paul's current focus is on coaching teams in practical techniques to solve their own challenges using the Essence framework (www.essence-in-use.com). He has taught software engineering at Binghamton University, conducted workshops on engineering processes and management and has published more than 50 articles and multiple books including "Integrating CMMI and Agile Development: Case Studies and Proven Techniques for Faster Performance Improvement," and "15 Fundamentals for Higher Performance in Software Development," and "It's All Upside Down: What I've Learned About Software Development and Why it Seems Opposite to Everything I was Taught." Paul is a co-author of "The Essence of Software Engineering: Applying the SEMAT Kernel." Paul is a Certified Scrum Master, Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and a Certified Essence Training Provider. His insights reflect 24 years of experience working for companies such as Link Simulation and Lockheed Martin, and 20 years of consulting/coaching experience. Paul has been a leader in the SEMAT initiative since its initial meeting in Zurich in 2010.  


This course has a private forum for learners who are taking this course.

The Leanpub 60 Day 100% Happiness Guarantee

Within 60 days of purchase you can get a 100% refund on any Leanpub purchase, in two clicks.

Now, this is technically risky for us, since you'll have the book or course files either way. But we're so confident in our products and services, and in our authors and readers, that we're happy to offer a full money back guarantee for everything we sell.

You can only find out how good something is by trying it, and because of our 100% money back guarantee there's literally no risk to do so!

So, there's no reason not to click the Add to Cart button, is there?

See full terms...

80% Royalties. Earn $16 on a $20 book.

We pay 80% royalties. That's not a typo: you earn $16 on a $20 sale. If we sell 5000 non-refunded copies of your book or course for $20, you'll earn $80,000.

(Yes, some authors have already earned much more than that on Leanpub.)

In fact, authors have earnedover $13 millionwriting, publishing and selling on Leanpub.

Learn more about writing on Leanpub

Free Updates. DRM Free.

If you buy a Leanpub book, you get free updates for as long as the author updates the book! Many authors use Leanpub to publish their books in-progress, while they are writing them. All readers get free updates, regardless of when they bought the book or how much they paid (including free).

Most Leanpub books are available in PDF (for computers) and EPUB (for phones, tablets and Kindle). The formats that a book includes are shown at the top right corner of this page.

Finally, Leanpub books don't have any DRM copy-protection nonsense, so you can easily read them on any supported device.

Learn more about Leanpub's ebook formats and where to read them

Write and Publish on Leanpub

You can use Leanpub to easily write, publish and sell in-progress and completed ebooks and online courses!

Leanpub is a powerful platform for serious authors, combining a simple, elegant writing and publishing workflow with a store focused on selling in-progress ebooks.

Leanpub is a magical typewriter for authors: just write in plain text, and to publish your ebook, just click a button. (Or, if you are producing your ebook your own way, you can even upload your own PDF and/or EPUB files and then publish with one click!) It really is that easy.

Learn more about writing on Leanpub