Project Practitioners > Mike Aucoin

Mike Aucoin

Dr. B. Michael Aucoin, PE, PMP is an internationally recognized consultant, writer and speaker - a thought leader in innovative approaches to the challenges of the high velocity workplace. He is the founder of Leading Edge Management, LLC, and provides training and consulting in project management and engineering management, drawing upon his extensive experience in diverse technology projects. He is the author of the books, Right-Brain Project Management, and, From Engineer to Manager: Mastering the Transition. He is also President of Electrical Expert, Inc., providing litigation support and expert witness testimony in electrical engineering. He teaches project management in the graduate program at the University of Maryland University College and also offers dynamic short courses based on his writings. He has been involved with ProjectConnections since its early days, creating content and directing the design and hosting of online learning events, all based on his passion for practical project management that works for new PMs and managers in the real world.

Dr. Aucoin holds five patents and has served on a Mishap Investigation Board for the NASA Johnson Space Center. He has been a member of the Board of Governors of the IEEE Engineering Management Society and served as their Vice President of Education. He has been a regular contributor for the Successful Project Management Newsletter andToday's Engineer magazine. He is also a recipient of an R&D 100 Award, an Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award, and a Third Millennium Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Who Put the #$!&@ in Teams?
By Michael Aucoin
To adapt a line from the movie Animal House, "Teams–can't live with them, can't live without them!" That may be the conclusion of a 2013 survey commissioned by the University of Phoenix that revealed some troubling findings about the nature of teams in the workplace. 95 percent of those surveyed recognize that teams serve an important function, but only 24 percent prefer to work in teams. 68 percent who have ever worked in teams have had at least one experience with a dysfunctional team. 40 percent of those who have worked on teams have witnessed a verbal confrontation between team... Read More»

Does Dysfunction Serve a Purpose?
By Michael Aucoin
When scanning articles or books, I like to include provocative or contrarian topics in my search - they often provide interesting or new points of view. With my interest in helping dysfunctional teams, my eye was immediately drawn to an academic paper, "The Functions of Dysfunction: Implications for Organizational Diagnosis and Change," by William A. Kahn, who is on the faculty at Boston University. My curiosity was piqued: what purpose could dysfunction possibly serve? We would all agree that dysfunction in a project team is counterproductive to the reason a team exists. With this premise, we tend to approach dysfunction... Read More»

Close the Complaint Department
By Michael Aucoin
Do you have a Complaint Department within your team? By that term, I do not mean the office that receives complaints from customers. Rather, this “department” is how individual team members air grievances about others on the team. For example, Lee has done or said something that Sam doesn’t like. Sam goes to Pat, an uninvolved third party, to complain about Lee. Such third party complaining is detrimental to a team for three reasons. It does not solve the underlying conflict, and creates an environment that prolongs the conflict. It may create factions within a team, meaning that the team... Read More»

Unsportsmanlike Conduct
By Michael Aucoin
In hockey, it will earn a player time in the penalty box. In soccer, it will result in the yellow card and an entry in the referee's notebook. In football, the consequence is a 15-yard penalty. Taken to extreme, an offending player may be ejected from the game. Sportsmanship is an attractive and worthy ideal of sports - the principle of fair and respectful play and fellowship. Across different sports, we appreciate good competition, but we have also identified unwanted and offensive actions, or unsportsmanlike conduct. It is no surprise, then, that these principles apply to the subject of negotiation.... Read More»

Getting to “Win-Win”
By Michael Aucoin
Many times, we hear someone say that a negotiation resulted in a “win-win” deal for both parties. It sounds like a simple concept, but have you ever thought about what it really means to you? More to the point, have you considered what it takes to get to a “win-win” outcome? As part of our mini-series on negotiation, in this installment, we address an important foundation for negotiating skill. As much as anything, getting to a “win-win” outcome is a matter of your beliefs, your optimism, and your creativity. Let’s start with some background. One can identify two types of... Read More»

Just Walk Away
By Michael Aucoin
The hot, expensive red sports car was calling out: “Buy me! Buy me!” It was a “gotta have” car from the moment the customer first saw it. The test drive sealed the deal. Salespeople love a customer like this. Once the emotional investment is made, price takes a back seat to obsession. Of course, hot red sports cars are not the only objects of our obsessions. In fact, “gotta haves” often pop up in our projects. The problem is not the obsession in and of itself, because it is appropriate to obsess about what is necessary and good for the... Read More»

It's All Negotiable
By Michael Aucoin
In our lives, we continually negotiate, knowingly or not. Where will we go out to eat? What will you give me for my used car? Who will pay for this scope change? And then there’s the big one: With whose family will we spend the holidays? Negotiation is as much a part of project management as a Gantt chart and the words, “over budget”. Many think that negotiation applies to major deals and the associated formal give and take, and that is certainly true. However, we often negotiate on a daily basis on matters big and small. It is helpful... Read More»

So Many Choices: Project Decision Making, Part 3
By Michael Aucoin
In the movie, Moscow on the Hudson, Robin Williams plays Vladimir Ivanov, a circus musician who defects from the former Soviet Union while visiting the United States. Knowing all too well the travails of shortages, and waiting in line for rations of mediocre food, he is unprepared for the coffee aisle at a store in New York City. Always a master with inhabiting a character, imagine Williams with a thick Russian accent, as for the first time in his life he encounters more choices than he can imagine. “Taster’s Choice… decaffeinated….” His voice trembles with wonder. “… Maxwell House… El... Read More»

Postcards from Sydney: Project decision making, part 2
By Michael Aucoin
How do you define project success? It seems like a question with a simple answer. A project is a success if it meets its objectives within the project constraints of scope, schedule, cost, risk, quality and resources. But, reflecting on part 1 of this mini series, remember that people make decisions based on emotion. The individuals associated with and affected by your project will determine success based on how they feel about your project. It is important to know this truth when making decisions as the project progresses. While we in the project management profession obsess about schedule and budget,... Read More»

Labor and Delivery: Project Decision-Making, Part 1
By Michael Aucoin
A very pregnant woman very much in labor pants and screams while sitting in the passenger seat of a car – its hood up on the side of the road. Outside, her partner implores her to breathe in rhythm while he worries at the steam coming from the engine. Along comes not one but two cars that stop to help, each driven by a famous Formula One racing car driver. While relieved at the sudden turn of good fortune, the couple can’t decide which driver will be the fastest to the hospital. Let me guess… at five years old, the... Read More»

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