Mike Pierce's blog

Level Headed: A Must-Read for the Engineering and Construction Industry

Over the holidays, I read a great book that I highly recommend to anyone in or getting into management in the engineering and construction industry: “Level Headed” by J. Doug Pruitt and Richard Condit, subtitled “Inside the Walls of One of the Greatest Turnaround Stories of the 21st Century”.

Making the Most of Your Year-end Activities

Each year, as we approach the end of the year, there is a definitive change of pace for just about everyone in the engineering and construction industry. Some projects underway are accelerated to achieve certain year-end goals. Others are delayed until funding is available after the first of the year when the new year’s budgets become available.

How Perception Impacts Project Communications

Most issues that arise in the performance of professional services have their root cause in the communications that occur between the humans executing the work. It’s an interesting aspect of human endeavor in that the thing we all do every day is communicate. So, why is it that something we do every day causes us the most difficulty?

How the 4 Stages of Competence Build Awareness and Project Success

Abraham Maslow, the famous psychologist who created the hierarchy of needs, is also often credited with developing the stages of competence matrix.

The "Laws of Organizational Physics" - Part 2: Momentum

In my last post, I referred to the Laws of Thermodynamics. I discussed how the concept of entropy and the postulate that all things tend to chaos or disorder unless acted upon by an outside force, relate to organizational dynamics. Furthermore, that the processes and procedures in an organization represent the most efficient force for controlling those tendencies.

The "Laws of Organizational Physics" - Part 1: Energy

Remember back in your high school physics or chemistry classes when you studied the Laws of Thermodynamics? As a refresher, the Laws of Thermodynamics say, in very general terms, that all things tend to disorder or chaos, unless acted upon by an outside force. While I am constantly reminded of this every time I open the door to my son’s bedroom, I am also witnessing this principle in play when we do a root cause analysis of a problem on a project.

Some Thoughts on Thankfulness

A couple of recent anecdotes...

First, a colleague recently told me about an exchange he had early in his career. His boss, who was a West Point Graduate and served in Viet Nam, had a way of putting things into perspective. After a particularly tough negotiation with an unreasonable and sometimes unprofessional vendor, he complained to his boss how difficult the process was. His boss pointed out that no one was trying to kill him, no one was shooting at him or his colleagues, and at the end of the day he got to go to his family and home.

How to Get That “Ah Ha!” Moment - Broadening Perceptions through Collaboration

Coming out of a meeting with a number of my peers, I was impressed by the various innovative strategies and approaches that many companies are taking. We are all faced with challenges, including new technologies, a changing workforce (especially in engineering and construction), and the agility with which executives are walking the fine line between short term financial goals and long term investing.

What is the "New Normal"?

Back in March of 2009, as the financial and real estate meltdown was occurring, McKinsey & Company issued an assessment where they posited, “This much is certain: when we finally enter into the post-crisis period, the business and economic context will not have returned to its pre-crisis state.” Whatever the “new normal” will be, it will not be the same.

A New Strategy: Embrace Change and Simplify

Over the past few weeks, I have come across a number of talks and articles that promote the idea of simplification in our lives. Futurist author Jack Uldrich has written books on the topic of “unlearning”. In fact, he refers to himself as the Chief Unlearning Officer of his consulting company. He quotes a philosopher who said, “To gain knowledge, learn something new every day. To gain wisdom, unlearn something new every day.”

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