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


Throughout, Peter Taylor believes in introducing humor, better yet, project fun should be smart fun. One such example:[18]

"A man in a hot air balloon was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a little more and shouted 'Excuse me madam, can you help? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am'.

The woman replied: 'You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately thirty feet above alkali desert scrub habitat, 2.7 miles west of Colorado River near one of the remnant populations and spawning grounds of the razorback sucker.'

'You must be a biologist,' said the balloonist.

'I am,' replied the woman. 'How did you know?'

'Well,' answered the balloonist, 'everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is that I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help so far.'

The woman responded with 'You must be a project manager.'

'I am,' answered the balloonist, 'but how did you know?

'Well,' said the woman, 'you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise to someone that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is, you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault!'"

Also, amusingly, Peter takes to heart his own recommendations about using the 80/20 rule (explained in section 2) and suggests that the reader may want to apply it to reading the book. That is, read only the 20% that is important and skip the other 80%. Doing so, would take you directly to section 11. But, hey, you would have missed a lot. As Peter explains:

"You [would have] missed something really interesting about eating dinosaurs, wearing ermine cloaks and how to spot a psychopathic woman at a funeral. We discovered the use for a creep'o'meter, learned much more about Swedish sex in the snow, and why you should never go ballooning. We avoided a big red bus, learned how to deliver a good Oscar acceptance speech, and appreciated why it is important for your team that you read the newspaper each morning. Oh, and we discovered a little something about mining for gold. We may also have briefly mentioned project management."[19]

But why stop there? Why not apply the same approach to section 11 and arrive at an even more condensed version in section 12? And apply it again and again to arrive at the ultimate (section 14) that consists of only three steps:[20]

  1. Buy a copy of the book for each of your team members
  2. Get them to read it thoroughly
  3. Book Peter as a speaker for the next big team meeting.

So, there you have it.

R. Max Wideman
Fellow, PMI

Downside  Downside

18. Ibid, pp71-72
19. Ibid, p111
20. Ibid, p125
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