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Meeting Archive

November 2015
Date: Tuesday - November 17, 2015
Topic: Managing Projects in Fluid Environments
Speaker: Rick Brenner

Abstract

Managing Projects in Fluid Environments

Managing projects, in most cases, entails moving from surprise to surprise while somehow staying more or less on track. And that's when things are going well. In fluid environments, continual change makes this level of performance very difficult indeed. In this program, we'll explore methods for devising and executing projects successfully by exploiting knowledge about where change comes from in fluid environments, tools for enhancing situational awareness, the Satir Change Model, and Boyd's OODA model of combat.

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About the Speaker

Photo - Rick Brenner

Rick Brenner

Rick Brenner is principal of Chaco Canyon Consulting. He works with people in dynamic problem-solving organizations that are making products so novel or complex that they need state-of-the-art teamwork and stronger relationships among their people. In his 25 years as a software developer, project manager, software development manager, entrepreneur, consultant, and coach, he has developed valuable insights into the interactions between people in complex dynamic environments, and between people and the media in which they work.

As a coach, he works with managers at all levels, emphasizing development of interpersonal skills, especially in fluid, high-stress contexts, such as organizations that are moving from a strict operational orientation to one in which ongoing operations must compete for resources with special enterprise-scale projects. Such a mixed environment creates organizational stresses that leaders must understand, not only because of the change-related issues that arise, but also because of the challenges to managers that they create, even when equilibrium is attained.

Over a period of seven years, he attended or assisted in numerous workshops under Jerry Weinberg, Dani Weinberg, and Jean McLendon. It was during this period that he acquired his skills in designing and facilitating experiential education. He was a founding member of the AYE Conference.

Mr. Brenner has held positions at Symbolics, Inc., and at Draper Laboratory, both of Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Symbolics, he was responsible for development of products based on Macsyma, a computer algebra system. At Draper, he was a principal investigator in a DARPA program, the Evolutionary Design of Complex Software, where he conducted research into advanced concepts for software de- velopment environments based on dynamic object-oriented programming lan- guages. From 1993 to 2014, he taught Spreadsheet Models for Managers, a course he devised, at the Harvard University Extension School.

He serves as the facilitator and group administrator for a discussion group he created at LinkedIn.com: Office Politics, Workplace Politics, and Organizational Politics. Discussions there are energetic and enlightening. The group now has over 750 members.

Mr. Brenner holds a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT. He is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the Boston Software Process Improvement Network, and the Agile New England Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has served in various leadership roles ranging from board member to vice president to chair (president) in local chapters of these societies. He was selected Chapter Member of the Year for NSA New England in 2001 and 2007. He is a member of the Project Management Institute.

His current interests focus on improving personal and organizational effectiveness in abnormal situations, such as dramatic change, enterprise emergencies, and high-pressure project environments. He has written a number of essays on these subjects, available at his Web site, www.ChacoCanyon.com, and writes and publishes a free weekly email newsletter, Point Lookout, which now has just over 3,000 subscribers.

 

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