The views expressed in these introductory reviews are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the books under review are the copyright property of the respective authors.
Published here July 2013

Introduction to the Books
Book 1 - Project Management: Achieving Competitive Advantage
Introduction | Table of Contents | General Observations and Recommendations
Book 2 - 101 Project Management Problems and How to Solve Them
Introduction | Table of Contents | General Observations and Recommendations
Book 3 - Rescue the Problem Project
Introduction | Table of Contents | General Observations and Recommendations

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 his Introduction:[10]

"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?[11]

(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 doing it.

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 fast... ."

"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... ."[12]

"Adjusting Expectations

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... ."[13]

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
Fellow, PMI

Table of Contents  Table of Contents

10. Ibid, p1
11. Ibid, p234
12. Ibid, p235
13. Ibid p236
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