What We Liked
Author Joseph Heagney rightly points out that:
"One of the most common misconceptions about project management is that it is just scheduling. [This] is certainly a major tool used to manage projects, but it is not nearly as important as developing ... a good work breakdown structure (WBS) to identify all the work to be done... . In fact, without practicing good project management, the only thing a detailed schedule will do is allow you to document your failures with great precision!"
"Scheduling is just one of the tools used to manage jobs and should not be considered the primary one."
He asks rhetorically: "Isn't project management just a variant on general management?" Very good question. Many people outside of project management would like to see it that way so that everyone would fit into well-established slots. In answer to his own question:
"Yes and no. There are a lot of similarities, but there are enough differences to justify treating project management as a discipline separate from general management. For one thing, projects are more schedule-intensive than most activities that general managers handle. And people in a project team often don't report directly to the project manager, whereas they do report to most general managers."
And then in Chapter 2 he continues:
"What is Managing? ... I don't know if it is really possible to convey what managing actually is. One reason is that project management is a performing art, and it is difficult to convey in words what an actor, athlete, or artist does. However, we can describe the various roles of a project manager, and that is the focus of this chapter. What should be clear is that you cannot very well become something if you cannot describe and define it, so this is a necessary exercise."
Well said! And to this, for the benefit of all those distraught project managers out there, he might have added a reference to responsibilities and how you should go about demonstrating your reliability and authority!
Later, Joseph adds:
"If you consider the major function of managing, it is to ensure that desired organization objectives are met. This is accomplished by exercising control over scarce resources. However, the word control has two connotations, and we must be careful which one we intend.
One meaning of the word is 'power and domination'. In management, this is sometimes called the command-and-control approach, which in its worst form degenerates into the use of fear and intimidation to get things done... . The second meaning of control - and the one I advocate for managers - is highlighted in the idea that control is exercised by comparing where you are to where you are supposed to be so that corrective action can be taken when there is a deviation... .
In any event, the major point to remember is that you cannot have control unless you have a plan, so planning is not optional."
In our experience, not every project is bounded by scarce resources. The "requirements" for some projects call for the best of the best for everything, as in "world class". These are the projects that really go out of control, and seemingly go on forever!
9. Ibid, p6
10. Ibid, p81
11. Ibid, pp1-2
12. Ibid, p25
13. Ibid, pp33-35