The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
Published February, 2012

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Understanding People | Downside | Summary

What We Liked

The Brontosaurus* model

But what about that Brontosaurus shape mentioned earlier? Its generally recognized shape is shown in Figure 1 and this in turn is likened to the amount of work in carrying out a project - a (little) beginning and end and a (large) bit in the middle. It's the bit in the middle where you, the project manager, should be able to take life more easily.

Figure 1: The Brontosaurus profile
Figure 1: The Brontosaurus profile[7]

As the author describes it:

"The point here is that working by the productive lazy rule, a smart project manager should apply time and effort at the critical stages of the project, i.e. the start and the finish, and less time in the middle or less critical stage. At this stage there are other people in the project who should be doing most of the hard work, and you probably deserve a bit of a rest anyway."[8]

And what is it that you are so busy doing on the project anyway? Here, Peter reminds us that "70% of your time as a project manager should be spent in some form of communication or other."[9] So, to get ahead, focus on the "front" end (i.e. initiation) and start the way you mean to go on because "Projects don't fail at the end, they fail at the beginning."[10] Three areas to focus on to ensure that your project starts the right way are: Get it going "in the right direction, with the right momentum and with the right processes and controls in place."[11]

That means serious communication and communicating is not that simple. In fact, the whole book is really about communication. As Peter says:

"lazy project managers will think very, very carefully about what they need to communicate and how they need to communicate it, and why they are communicating what they are communicating ... [Since] this is by far the biggest activity [it] offers the greatest opportunity for time in the comfy chair. Imagine if you would be able to save some of that 70% of your time, how much more relaxed would you be?"[12]

Peter's tips for achieving this include sections explaining "Confidence does breed success"; "Dress for success"; "Get the upper hand"; "Be prepared"; "Anticipate everything you can"; and "Know the end game".[13] Of course, there will always be crises and Peter advises that the lazy project manager's response must be to "Breath normally".[14]. Peter explains why and how.

Having said all of that, it then comes down to understanding the people with whom you are communicating and this challenge falls right in the fat part of the brontosaurus - err - we mean project.

Book Structure  Book Structure

* Why is "Brontosaurus" now called Apatosaurus?
7. Ibid, illustration on p18
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid, p21
10. Ibid, p22
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid, p54
13. Ibid, pp25-29
14. Ibid, pp75-80
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