Book 2 - 101 Project Management Problems and How to Solve Them by Tom Kendrick, 2011
General Observations and Recommendations
This book is well written in a clear and understandable style. It is essentially
a reference book and does not require illustrations of any sort. Seasoned professionals
may easily read it through from cover to cover, nodding their heads as they recognize
and concur with the advice given. However, as author Tom Kendrick points out in
"Project management problems frequently arise as questions, and most good project
management questions have the same answer: 'It all depends.'"
"The focus here is on real problems encountered by project managers working
in the trenches, trying to get their projects done in today's stress-filled environment."
"In all cases, your judgment is essential to solving your particular problems."
"Adapt the ideas offered here if they appear helpful. Disregard them if the
advice seems irrelevant to your project."
As just one example, we have selected Problem #95 What should I do
to establish control when taking over a project where I was not involved in the
scoping or planning?
(Editor's note: No, we did not select #95 just to prove we read
the whole book. Rather because that was exactly the problem we faced when ordered
to fly across Canada on a days notice to fix an important proposal with a four-day
deadline. As it happened, by assembling a team to work round the clock, much to
our surprise, we won that proposal against two other well established companies.
Personally, we rather like rescuing problem projects because it is difficult to
do any worse than the last guy, and management is often easier on the purse strings
in order to save face.)
Here follows some extracts from Tom's text:
"Some times you must assume leadership for a project that someone else started.
To do this well, you must keep things going while you maintain (or establish)
team cohesion, review and update the plans, and get to know your stakeholders.
Keeping the Plane in the Air
When you are tossed in the middle of a running project, your first order of
business will be to keep it going. Some projects needing a new leader are in good
shape, because the former leader's departure had nothing to do with the state
of the project. Other projects, however, may need serious attention to correct
problems, and this can be true even for some projects that appear on the surface
to be running smoothly. Whatever your initial impressions, you will need to rapidly
assess what people are doing and, unless you detect serious issues, keep them
If there are adequate documents and plans available, quickly use them to do
a thorough cycle of status collection to identify any significant variances. If
the planning information is thin or nonexistent, meet with each project team member
to discuss what he or she is up to and plans to do next. Document what you learn
and prepare a status report summarizing the state of the project.
Establishing Relationships and Teamwork
Schedule time with each assigned contributor to meet one-on-one and get to
know each other. Discuss roles and responsibilities, and begin building trust.
When you inherit a project team that's already in place, you'll want to do this
"Making the plans your own
Regardless of how good the project plans appear to be, you will need to thoroughly
review them, and update them as necessary to create plans that you understand
and believe in... ."
If you detect significant problems in your requirements analysis or plan review,
meet with your sponsor to discuss them. If you find that significant changes are
necessary, use your data to negotiate them and reset your project baseline to
be realistic... ."
So, if the ideas in this case fit your situation, then use them. If not, as
Tom modestly suggests, disregard them if the advice seems irrelevant. But in our
view, the majority of Tom's Problem suggestions are both reliable and realistic,
if applied with a healthy amount of your personal judgment, as he suggests.
R. Max Wideman
10. Ibid, p1
11. Ibid, p234
12. Ibid, p235
13. Ibid p236