What traits make a person an effective leader? How that person handles uncertainty has to be near the top of the list, says Keith Hornbacher, MBA, Affiliated Faculty, Organizational Dynamics, at the University of Pennsylvania.
But how do you teach a concept as hard to grasp as, well, uncertainty? In his “Managing Project Risk, Uncertainty, and the Unexpected” course, Mr. Hornbacher uses @RISK software to take graduate students through actual case studies of how organizations incorporated uncertainty into their decision-making.
“@RISK’s specialized keystrokes and basic features are quickly learned, while the simulation engine and advanced features are powerful,” Mr. Hornbacher says. “That efficiency allows more time for students to concentrate on context, data collection, heuristics, biases, results interpretation and the leadership essentials of decision-making under uncertainty.”
Mr. Hornbacher knows a thing or two about handling the unexpected under pressure.
Organizational Dynamics, University of Pennsylvania
Early in his career, he was a combat pilot and instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is also the founder of Hornbacher Associates, which has provided project risk management and quantitative cost and schedule risk analysis services for organizations including the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and NASA.
It was in his consulting work that he first encountered @RISK in its earliest versions. His firm has used @RISK for projects as diverse and complex as cost risk analyses of multi-billion dollar, cross-country pipeline projects.
“@RISK for Excel and @RISK for Project are mainstays in my firm’s analytical tool set for integrated cost and schedule risk analyses of aerospace, defense, energy, construction and structurally complex private and public sector projects,” he says.
The software has been a natural fit with leadership concentration courses since he began teaching at UPenn more than five years ago. “Collection and iteration of data needed to create integrated cost and schedule risk models helps students understand how effective leaders handle uncertainty,” he says.