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 author.
Published here June 2018

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked - Part 1
What We Liked - Part 2 | Downside | Summary


"This book is about situational intelligence in project management, and a careful or even doubtful use of assumptions and interpretations is a central element of any situational approach."[1] So says our author Oliver Lehmann. Indeed, in his Preface he states:

"Project Management practices are often inexpensive excuses [for]:

  • 'No, we will not accept the change request. It may bring benefits, but it is not in the plan or strategy.' [Or]
  • 'No, we do not have a plan and we will not waste time documenting the project. We are going Agile.'[!]"[2]

Oliver goes further:

"Many practitioners in project management observe these discussions with irritation. Practices are often promoted in a way that taking sides with one of them requires the fundamental rejection of another one. Project managers are sometimes unsettled by this and wonder what they are going to lose with such a step.

And they are right. The moment may come when this other behavior, method, or tool is more favorable in a specific situation. It is helpful, therefore, to have a basic concept — what it is that makes a practice favorable or detrimental to a given situation and how this practice should be implemented.

This is the concept that allows things to fall into place. This concept has a name: 'Situational Project Management' or, in short, SitPM"[3]

This book is an excellent treatise on all kinds of tough situations that project managers may have to face in the real world of project management. Worse yet, project managers with lesser experience and without a realistic study of the project's actual situation, may easily overlook the potential damage from situations like the many examples provided. The author's situational examples are culled from worldwide case reports that have not only been made publicly available, but are also extensively backed up by the author's personal contacts and interviews with managers and others directly involved.

So what you may ask? The "so what" is that this book is not about what should be done, but rather about what could be done. That is upon discovery of adverse situations surrounding a project that may have been overlooked as a risk, or otherwise deliberately set aside, ignored, or "not in the budget".

Consequently, this book provides learning and solutions that will not be found in any of the popular project management methodology expositions published today. Such treatise are based on some theoretical constructs and/or widely observed practices that appear to be generally successful, and then simplified as much as possible for purposes of instruction and certification. They do not provide solutions to the multitude of problems that project managers actually face in real practice every day.

So, if you want the real dirt[4] on the realities of day-to-day project management, together with the dynamics of success and failure in an ever-new mixture of situational intelligence, luck and merit, then read this book. You will find fascinating descriptions, often in great detail, of past successes, and failures and how each came to be.

Indeed, in his Preface, the author concludes by stating: "In this book, I hope to provide project managers with as much guidance as possible to develop [an] adaptive [SitPM] approach to their projects."[5]

About the author

Oliver F. Lehmann, PMP, CLI-CA, holds a Master of Science Degree in Project Management from the University of Liverpool, UK. He had practiced project management for more than 12 years, mostly for the automotive industry and related trades, when he decided to make a change and become a trainer, speaker and author in 1995. He has had assignments in Asia, Europe and the USA for companies such as DB Schenker Logistics, Microsoft, Olympus, and Deutsche Telekom. He is also a Visiting Lecturer at the Technical University of Munich. Oliver served as President of the South Germany Chapter of the Project Management Institute, USA from 2013 to 2018.[6]


1. Lehmann, Oliver F. Situational Project Management — The Dynamics of Success and Failure, Taylor & Francis Group, Florida, USA, © 2016, p26.
2. Ibid, p xvii
3. Ibid, p xvii-xviii.
4. "Real dirt" — a rather slang expression implying chicanery and other forms of mismanagement.
5. Ibid, p xxii
6. Ibid, p xxiii
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