Managing the Unexpected

Program Dates

November 09 - 12, 2014

Cost: $4,800

This program is eligible for Professional Development Units for the PMP ® under category B
of PMI's Continuing Education Requirements.

Related Information


At work, we're all expected to create and innovate—what sometimes holds us back is feeling paralyzed by time pressure, resource constraints, and the fear of being judged by others. Almost everyone experiences these obstacles, but you can learn to work through them by letting go of inhibitions, honing your concentration and communications skills, and studying the keys to creative problem solving—in other words, you can learn to thrive when you manage the unexpected.

With firm academic grounding in psychology, behavioral economics, and organizational theory, Managing the Unexpected teaches you how to react effectively in unpredictable situations by combining proven behavioral theories with improvisational learning exercises. At the start, co-creators, Bob Kulhan and Craig Fox, provide a comfortable environment where you begin to see that through failure comes success and that any idea is the first step to developing a winning idea. Over three days, you'll practice opening up on a personal and professional level and become more comfortable taking creative risks while building a culture of innovation and organizational learning that drives business growth and establishes a competitive advantage.


The Experience
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First, Get Comfortable

Life is unscripted—so without thinking about it, you're forced to improvise throughout the day, every day. It's only when you get out of your comfort zone that you're less likely to put yourself on the line to make necessary decisions. Through Managing the Unexpected, you'll experience new situations in a safe environment so you can learn to open up, feel free to take risks, and use your improvisational skills to help you innovate in business situations.

Next, Think Quick

Over the 3-day course, you'll practice thinking on your feet and exercising your decision making skills in both a dynamic team environment and different business simulations. You will learn to sharpen the skill set needed to react, adapt and communicate to the best of your ability in unexpected situations.

Finally, Try It at Work

You'll learn skills you can immediately apply at work. For example, you can accept and advance other's suggestions to bring the best ideas forward. Or use the "yes and…" technique that trains you to think more positively to increase intrinsic motivation and loyalty. Lastly, just by slowing down your process, you will learn to see that opportunities always exist even in a chaotic environment.

Retrain Your Brain

Managing the Unexpected gets you to think in new ways. By changing your technique, you'll have the power to alter team dynamics, open up lines of communication, and nimbly manage in unpredictable situations¾lifelong skills you can build upon throughout your career. 


"I was given useful tools to improve my creativity and to elicit it from others. It [improv] enabled me to innovate by putting me in unexpected situations where I could articulate crazy ideas without fear of criticism. It was an excellent method to practice real-time decision making, with the flexibility to make mistakes without negative consequences."

Gary Flye
VP, Database Manager
Wells Fargo

Managing the Unexpected blends lectures, discussions, and applied business simulations with hands-on exercises adapted from theatrical improvisation. The first program of its kind at a top-tier business school, it takes a creative approach to improving your general management and leadership skills while working within dynamic (and sometimes chaotic) business environments.You'll practice sharpening your intuitive judgment, leveraging all your resources, and acting decisively in the moment. The course is based on applied management theory and is taught through group discussions and interactive sessions.

Learn more on how the workshop will impact your effectiveness.


Managing the Unexpected maximizes your individual, team, and organizational effectiveness by helping you:

  • Identify and overcome barriers to your creativity
  • Promote innovation and organizational learning
  • Make faster individual and better group decisions
  • Resolve conflict constructively and efficiently
  • Communicate more effectively in crisis situations
  • Be a sussessful agent of change within your organization
  • Refine your communication and presentation skills

Learn more about the schedule.


The program kicks off with a reception on Sunday night, with instruction occurring Monday through Wednesday.

Expand below to view daily schedule.

Contract All Expand All

  • Day One Schedule

  • Day Two Schedule

  • Day Three Schedule

Learn more about who should attend.
Who Should Attend

"I learned some simple, but effective techniques to keep conversations moving in a positive direction and I developed skills to leverage everyone's strengths and foster a climate where we build on each other's ideas."

Steve Lach, Chief, Congressional Affairs
United States Air Force

This class improves team dynamics in all types of business situations. It's perfect for managers who lead and team members who are being led.

Past participants have included but aren't limited to people in the following positions:

  • Senior Manager
  • Vice President
  • CIO
  • Manager
  • CEO
  • Director

Learn more about our facilities and location.


The front of the R. David Thomas Center building

When attending Managing the Unexpected you can draw from the vast resources at Duke and the local Durham area. You'll stay at the R. David Thomas Executive Conference Center, which is in close proximity to the tranquil Duke Forest, the walking trails and golf course at the Washington Duke Inn, and The Sarah P. Duke Gardens, one of the premier public gardens in the United States.