The Pocket Guide for Those Daring Enough to Take Responsibility for Large Industrial Projects
By Jean-Pierre Capron, 2012
General Observations and Recommendations
This book is well written in a very clear style on content that does not require illustrations. It is not a comprehensive textbook on the subject - rather, it is all the things to look out for that the author has learned from experience. Essentially, it contains a career-full of lessons-learned from a long and exciting vocation in managing the project elements of large, challenging and legally framed projects. For those with knowledge of the construction industry, field experience, and a little sense of humor, this book will be enjoyable reading while learning a lot of the tricks-of-the-trade.
With valuable advice on every page, it is difficult to pick out examples, but perhaps two stand out early on. In the first, the author observes: "A project's life is punctuated by multiple interfaces." The author then follows with a number of examples and then goes on to say:
"Like passing a baton, each interface is fraught with risk - in this case, risk of misunderstanding, loss of information tracking and clashing of interests, if not disputes. In effect, an interface is a frontier, so to speak, a power game and, latently, an ideal place for expressing antagonisms. Human nature being what it is, someone will inevitably seek to evade responsibility when there is a problem by dragging in those who precede or who follow in the sequence of tasks."
In our second example, after describing the traditional organization chart of an industrial manufacturing company and its lack of suitability for managing a large project, the author observes:
"To fix this mess, the enterprise needs to be organized around the projects it undertakes requiring three major reforms. First, every project the company undertakes must be entrusted to an integrated team endowed with all the skills that will be needed to complete it.
"[Further] all these people must be located in a single place, forming a 'project set' (or in more picturesque language: 'all put in the same jar'."
"If justified by the project's size, these participants are seconded full time; if not then on a part time basis. Regardless, in all cases - and this is the second reform to implement - they report to the project manager only." (Emphasis added.)
"Finally, and here we have the third reform, the departments' roles has to be redefined. They lose their authority over the project's conduct, while retaining responsibility for their respective disciplines: recruitment, training and long term development."
For those in the business described, in our opinion this book provides sound advice, timely cautions, and constitutes a realistic and valuable read. Because of Jean-Pierre's wry sense of humor this pocket guide is enjoyable reading for anyone involved with, or has some experience of, managing contract work on any significant project.
R. Max Wideman
6. Ibid, pp14-15
7. Ibid, pp20-22