Making Chaos Work for You
Keys to Small Firm Management
Program Description

Unpredictability is a fact of life for small architectural firms. Small firm owners must cope with constantly shifting workloads, respond quickly to promising opportunities and deal immediately with unexpected challenges. The only certainty is the uncertainty that small firms face.

Operational problems are often the result of this unpredictability. Examples of operational problems in small firms include low productivity coupled with deadline-generated crisis, inadequate human resources management resulting in low job satisfaction and poor delegation, with too much information in the hands of too few people. Many of these problems relate directly to a firm's ability to handle an environment of unrelenting change.

This seminar presents strategies for increasing productivity within this milieu of unpredictability, including case studies illustrating best practice models. Participants will learn about the major influences on productivity in small firms, the relationships between these influences, and practical techniques for continuous improvement. This seminar will also examine the impact of organizational culture on a firm's ability to function effectively.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be introduced to theories and case studies relating to the management of unpredictable and fast-changing conditions, including chaos theory, self-organizing, and the discipline of systems thinking.

Participants will learn about the major influences on productivity in small firms, relationship between these influences, their relationship to uncertainty, and how to create strategies for continuous improvement of firm operations.

Participants will explore specific organizational qualities capable of promoting productivity and creativity in an atmosphere of unpredictability.

Program Format/Length

This 2-hour (2.0 LU) seminar will consist of three parts:

  • Introduction to management theory and its application to small firm practice, including the impact of organizational culture, practical strategies for effective operations, and the discipline of systems thinking as an aid to understanding trends within unpredictable environments.
  • Small group discussions using “group interview technique.” Participants will interview each other asking prepared questions such as: What is the most significant impediment to productivity in your firm? What tasks can only be done by the principals and why? And, what is the attitude in your firm toward change?
  • Large group dialogue, including a report-out from each small group and a facilitated follow-up discussion.

Health, Safety & Welfare

This seminar does not meet the criteria for HSW credits.

Instructor Compensation

This program is available to AIA Components for an honorarium of $200.00, plus travel expenses from Seattle, Washington.