The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the Project Management Institute.
Published here November 2021

Introduction | Book [B] Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Conclusion

What We Liked

This Book [B] called "PMBOK® Guide" certainly presents a lot of good advice regarding appropriate individual performance or behavior. This advice should be especially helpful to anyone engaged in any work that involves extensive communications, whether electronic or otherwise. In fact, the Introduction in Chapter 1 of this Book [B] describes the structure of its Chapter 2, the largest chapter in the Book, as follows:[10]

"This section identifies and describes eight project performance domains that form an integrated system to enable delivery of the project and intended outcomes."

That's good to know.

In a graphical representation,[11] it makes clear that 12 "Principles of Project Management"[12] are behavioral expectations. This "Guide Behavior" feeds into 8 Performance Domains as listed under Chapter 2 of the Book [B] Structure presented earlier.[13] These 8 Performance Domains are then individually described at length in the 123 pages that follow. The first of these is the "Stakeholders Performance Domain".

Prior to this publication, the term "stakeholders" often tends to be used to refer to anyone and everyone involved in a project, which is to say both the external stakeholders and the internal team members. However, in the graphic, "Stakeholders" and "Team" are now clearly listed separately.[14] This is an important distinction because the motivations of these two groups are frequently at odds. That is, the stakeholders are seeking "more (outcome) for less (effort or money)" while the team is attempting to "minimize project costs (through effectiveness and efficiency)" by keeping the actual costs within the bounds of their budget.[15]

In amongst the confusion that sometimes exists within a project team, it is good to see recognized that:[16]

"The project manager is key in establishing and maintaining a safe, respectful, nonjudgmental environment that allows the project team to communicate openly. One way to accomplish this is by modeling desired behavior, such as:

  • Transparency, Integrity, Respect, Positive discourse, Support, Courage, and Celebrate success."

Each of which are described in detail.

Other similar good recommendations include:[17]

  • Creating "a high-performance project team"
  • Developing Leadership Skills
  • Using Critical Thinking, and
  • Applying Motivation, Interpersonal Skills, Decision making, and Conflict management.

Another obvious approach is introduced as "Tailoring Leadership Styles".[18] Some variables that influence "tailoring" include:[19]

  • Experience with the type of project
  • Maturity of the project team members
  • Organizational governance structures, and
  • Distributed project teams.

These too are described in some detail. However, the concept of "Tailoring" is discussed at length in Chapter 3.[20]

Yet another new term that is introduced to project management is the word "cadence". This term is used in describing "Developing Approach and Life Cycle Performance Domain" as follows:

  • "A project life cycle consisting of phases that facilitate the delivery cadence[21] and development approach required to produce the project deliverables."[22]

For those not familiar with this musical term, "cadence" means to end, or return to the beginning of a piece music. However, here the term is redefined in the text as meaning: "A rhythm of activities conducted throughout the project."[23] Either way, a project is supposed to progress from beginning to end through a series of activities that vary considerably from beginning to end, especially through progressive phases. Indeed, that is the whole point of genuine project management.

However, while this usage may be useful in describing the process involved in a limited number of particular types of project, personally I think this term represents an unnecessary intervention into well-established project management terminology and practice. The use of the word "cadence" is therefore best avoided for projects in general, and particularly in a Guide such as this.

In general, the text is well written in a clear style, even if unnecessarily verbose at times. All sections and subsections are carefully numbered, even down to four digits or layers. They all contain good easy-to-read content in the selected 8 Project Performance Domains as listed earlier.

While the Principles that are presented may be questioned, what then follows generally represents sound advice, which is effectively at an introductory level.

Book [B] Structure  Book [B] Structure

10. Ibid, pB3.
11. Ibid, pB5 Figure 1‑1. Relationship between Project Management Principles and Project Performance Domains.
12. Ibid, The 12 "Principles" shown in the Figure 1‑1 are collectively summarized as "Guide Behavior" that feed into 8 "Project Performance Domains".
13. Ibid, in the graphic, 8 "Project Performance Domains" are identified.
14. Ibid, pB7.
15. Ibid, Well that's the theory anyway. Regrettably, on many projects conducted internally in an organization and using internal payroll people, these costs are not really seriously accounted for.
16. Ibid, pB20-21.
17. Ibid, pB22-B29.
18. Ibid, pB29.
19. Ibid, pB30.
20. Ibid, pB131-B152.
21. Ibid, emphasis added.
22. Ibid, pB32.
23. Ibid, pB33.
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