The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of this book under review are the copyright property of the respective authors therein.
Published here May 2014

Introduction | About the Editors | Book Structure
What We Liked | Downside | Summary

What We Liked

The diversity of authors and their opinions brings a broader spectrum of technical conjectures and beliefs to the fore, much greater than could be expected from only one or two authors. In fact, for the edification of the reader, this very diversity of content may well point to the shape and extent of the project management body of knowledge of the future.

So the benefit to the average reader is in finding in this book suggestions, recommendations, clarifications and posits that go well beyond the content of the typical examination study texts. In addition, for those undertaking academic research, the works of most of the authors are thoroughly referenced in the "References and Further Reading" provided at the end of each chapter. As an additional benefit these references are collected together as a complete and extensive bibliography at the end of the book.

In general the book is well written throughout and the editors have done a good job of ensuring reasonable uniformity of style so that it does not get in the way of moving from chapter to chapter. The contents are also well illustrated with diagrams, tables, and bullets where appropriate. Because of the number of chapters, the number of authors and the sheer volume of the book, it does not make sense to try to extract examples of the content in the limited space of this page. Moreover, it would be churlish to choose one author over another.

Nevertheless, we can report that editors Dennis Lock and Lindsay Scott have written nearly a quarter of the book themselves. That is, fourteen of the sixty-three chapters. We also found it interesting that several authors referred to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as a frame of reference. In particular, the MBTI was used to illustrate concepts and ideas ranging from how to deal with recalcitrant children to stubborn stakeholders.[6] Otherwise, the MBTI was used for positioning individual personality types in the environment of project life span phases, and areas of authority, responsibility, accountability and reliability.

Regrettably, none of these authors had cottoned on to the Dominant Personality Traits Suited to Running Projects Successfully as described in my 1990's research that you can find here:[7]

For what it is worth, we did attempt a comparison of the book's six parts by subjective evaluation on first reading of each of the contained chapters. We used a five-point scale as follows:

  • Relevance to the book's subject matter as implied by the book's title;
  • The extent to which the chapter is written structurally;
  • The value of a particular project management "people" challenge;
  • The degree of support in the associated tables and illustrations; and
  • How realistic the author's solution or response appears to be.

We have reflected on the book's title on the next page. By "structurally" we mean ease of reading and/or following the line of reasoning of the particular author.

On this basis, Part 3: Improving Project Teams and Their People proved to be the most useful with a score of 88%, followed closely by Part 2: People In and Around the Project Environment, brief though it is, with a score of 87%. We felt that Part 4: Developing the Individual was the weakest, with a score of 67%

Book Structure  Book Structure

6. One should not assume from this that all stakeholders are seen as problem people.
7. Wideman, R. Max, Dominant Personality Traits Suited to Running Projects Successfully, a paper presented to the Project Management Institute's Annual Seminar/Symposium in Long Beach, California, USA, 1998, updated in 2002 for web presentation as the fourth in a series linking project type through management style to project success. The six papers in the series can be found published from December 2001 to May 2002 on this page
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