Managing in Fluid Environments

Managing — teams, projects, groups, departments, or the enterprise — often entails moving from surprise to surprise while somehow staying almost on track. On good days, we can avoid sacrificing our goals. And then there are the other days. Most people now work in environments that can best be characterized as fluid, because they are subject to continual change. How can we manage better in fluid environments?

Modern enterprises are steadily becoming more and more dynamic. The environments in which most people find themselves can perhaps best be characterized as fluid, in the sense that they are subject to continual, if not continuous, change. No status quo remains in pace for very long.

The changes that do occur are predictable in the large, but not in the details of what, when, where, or how much. For instance, we can be fairly certain that sometime soon we will experience a hiring freeze, a contractor price increase, unexpected voluntary turnover, staff raids by other projects, and much more.

Managing in Fluid Environments

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). No organization is as complex as a galaxy, but the complexity we face when managing organizations can far exceed anything we imagine.

In this program, we explore an approach to management that relies on five competencies:

  • Knowing your situation
  • Planning for resilience
  • Mastery of change management
  • Mastery of logistics
  • Effective force protection

This program is available as a keynote, workshop, seminar, breakout, or clinic. For the shorter formats, coverage of the outline below is selective.

We show attendees eight tools for enhancing situational awareness, two fundamental principles of resilient planning, two models of change, and four fundamentals of logistics and force protection.

Program outline

Below is an outline of the program:

  • Introduction
    • What Is a Fluid Environment?
    • Establishing the learning environment
    • Gauging the level of fluidity in the organization
  • The Challenges of Fluid Environments
    • Problems for managers
    • Where the problems come from
    • The nature of change in the fluid environment
    • Limitations of conventional change management methodologies
  • Five competencies for management in fluid environments
    • Situational awareness
    • Resilient planning
    • Change management
    • Logistics
    • Force protection
  • Tools for Fluid Environments
    • Situational awareness
    • Resilient planning
    • Change management
    • Logistics
    • Force protection
  • Summary and wrap-up
    • What to do tomorrow
    • Monitoring your own learning
    • Resources for the future

Learning model

We usually think of management skills as rather free of emotional content. We hold this belief even though we know that our most difficult situations can be highly charged. Despite our most sincere beliefs, taking an organization to the next level of performance does require learning to apply specific skills even in situations of high emotional content. That's why this program uses a learning model that differs from the one often used for technical content.

Our learning model is partly experiential, which makes the material accessible even during moments of stress. Using a mix of presentation, simulation, group discussion, and metaphorical problems, we make available to participants the resources they need to make new, more constructive choices even in tense situations.

Target audience

Leaders and managers of dynamic, problem-solving organizations.

Program duration

Available formats range from 50 minutes to one half-day. The longer formats allow for more coverage or more material, more experiential content and deeper understanding of issues specific to audience experience.

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