The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Webinar: Managing Unknown-Unknowns in Project Management

13 May 2020, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Webinar: Managing Unknown-Unknowns

Join the Transforming Construction Network Plus for its third webinar and hear about the unforeseeable uncertainty that lies ahead.

This event is free.

Event Information

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Transforming Construction Network Plus


Online Event
Joining instructions will be sent a few days before the event.

Webinar: Managing Unknown-Unknowns in Project Management

Featuring Professor Tyson Browning and Dr Alicia Hennig and moderated by Professor Jan Godsell, the webinar will consider the unknown-unknowns in project management, these critical surprises that have not been and could not have been imagined or anticipated. Reflecting on key lessons and leading practices from an operations and supply chain perspectives, speakers will discuss how to identify and tackle these unknown-unknowns to improve project management, in construction and other types of major projects.

Reducing unwelcome surprises in project management

“Unknown unknowns” (unk-unks) lurk in every project, waiting to emerge, surprise, and derail plans.  Based on the article Reducing Unwelcome Surprises in Project Management, Professor Browning’s presentation will show why unk-unks emerge in projects, in terms of six factors that make them more likely, and where unk-unks reside in projects, in terms of six domains. Together, these frame 36 areas potentially worth closer investigation through directed recognition. Finally, Professor Browning will also outline 11 tools to help managers deal with unk-unks. 

Better managing uncertainty through yin-yang thinking

Reflecting on the article Yin-yang thinking – A solution to dealing with unknown unknowns?, Dr Hennig will introduce the concept of yin-yang, which is an essential concept in Chinese philosophy and characterizes Chinese thinking to date. Often falsely understood and dismissed as esoteric or mystic, the concept of yin-yang can be classified as an alternative logic. In times of uncertainty, now more prevalent than ever, an alternative way of thinking and logic may help us discover new approaches and solutions to our problem(s). Trying to “think yin-yang” in this sense is like seeing things through another lens.

This event is the third of four international webinars from the Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+), which is part of the Transforming Construction Challenge. The N+ is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The N+ unites construction’s academic and industrial communities to create a new research and knowledge base, dedicated to addressing the systemic problems holding back the sector.  

Registration for this webinar will close on Monday 11 May. 

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with the speakers at the end of the session. A recording of the talks and discussion from the webinar will be available to watch online after the live event.

Professor Tyson Browning

Professor Tyson R. Browning is an internationally recognized researcher, educator, and consultant. He is a full Professor of Operations Management in the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University, where he conducts research on managing complex projects (integrating managerial and engineering perspectives) and teaches MBA courses on project management, operations management, risk management, and process improvement.

Prior to joining TCU in 2003, he worked for Lockheed Martin, the Lean Aerospace Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Honeywell Space Systems, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. He earned a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Abilene Christian University before two Master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from MIT.

Having previously served as a Department or Associate Editor for three journals, he is currently co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Operations Management.


Dr Alicia Hennig

Dr Alicia Hennig holds a full research position as Associate Professor of Business Ethics at the Department of Philosophy at Southeast University in Nanjing, China. She obtained her PhD in philosophy and applied ethics (business ethics) from Technical University Darmstadt, Germany, with co-supervision from Thomas Pogge (Yale, CT, USA). During her PhD she worked at a leading private business school in Germany, the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, publishing her first working papers on China and business ethics.

Her current research focuses on Chinese philosophy and its application in organisations in the context of values, ethics and innovation. In addition to her research she also has practical working experience gained in Chinese as well as foreign companies in China. Alicia Hennig is cooperating with a number of educational and business institutions to promote a better understanding of Chinese culture and thinking, such as ESMT Berlin, the Austrian Center at Fudan University, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Frankfurt (IHK Frankfurt), and the German Chamber of Commerce in China (AHK Beijing; AHK Shanghai).


Professor Jan Godsell

Jan Godsell is a Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick. Her work focuses on the pursuit of more responsible consumption and production through the alignment of product, marketing and supply chain strategy with consumer needs. In particular Jan’s work focuses on the design of end-to-end supply chains to enable, responsibility, sustainability, flexibility and productivity. She leads the Supply Chain Research Group and the Supply Chains in Practice (SCIP) industrial collaborator forum.

As a chartered engineer, Jan has more than two decades of combined industry experience in product development, innovation, supply chain strategy, and process improvement working for ICI, Astra Zeneca and Dyson. She has advised government and industry on supply chain strategy and its relationship to industrial and business strategy. She has served on numerous advisory boards, and is currently a member of the Made Smarter Expert Panel and Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Advisory Group.