A part of the systems engineering and engineering design community has voiced a need to measure the goodness of systems engineering and engineering design methods or approaches. Such measurements could enable assessing the merits of novel approaches and methods and, ultimately, compare the situations and contexts in which one of them would be preferred over the other ones. Notwithstanding the complexity of such endeavor, this paper presents an elemental decomposition of systems engineering that can be used for characterizing systems engineering methods or approaches. The proposed model builds on understanding systems engineering as the application of strategies to realize systems. The proposed elemental decomposition consists of four elements, which represent the potential effects that any systems engineering activity may have on the system development: set an order on the solution space, change the content of the design space, shape beliefs on the order of the solution space, and shape beliefs on the solution space. Such characterization could eventually be useful to compare the structure and behavior of different systems engineering methods.