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

What We Liked - Part 1

This book is well written in a down-to-earth style that makes it relatively easy to understand and, for project management aficionados, it is certainly very entertaining and enjoyable. Where appropriate, the book is also well illustrated to provide a better understanding of the associated text.

As to sound advice, the essence of the text is that projects in real life do not respond necessarily to preconceived ideas, published standards, or even past experience. In short, don't take anything for granted. Instead, be ever vigilant of the surrounding, i.e., "situational" circumstances. Hence the book's repeated reference to "Situational Project Management", or "SitPM" as described earlier.

A particularly interesting feature is that a set of six Introductory Questions appears at the beginning of each of the first five chapters. These questions are similar in format to typical multiple choice exam questions providing options from which you, as the project manager, should choose the best of several courses of action. However, the questions, and the answers are far from black and white. Indeed, many of the options would take your project down a quite different path and set of consequences.

In fact, just like real life.

Yes, the book also provides the author's answers to his questions, but not in the expectation of being right or wrong, but rather on the basis of the circumstances described in the ensuing chapter. So, you are invited to revisit the set of questions after reading the rest of the chapter to see how the appropriate answers become clearer after digesting the circumstance described.[7]

As an example, consider question #4 at the beginning of Chapter 1 that states:[8]

"4. Projects are different from operations in which of the following aspects?



Projects are limited by resources that may not be available in sufficient quantities at all times.



Projects are performed to meet objectives or satisfy needs, or to create another kind of value.



Projects should be performed following the cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act.



Projects are temporary endeavors and are unique by nature and definition.

Author's answer:[9]

"Q4(d). Temporary and unique are attributes that distinguish projects from operations, which are continuous and repetitive by definition. A note: Operations are of course also temporary — nothing lasts forever, at least in industry. The difference is that projects are intended to be finished when work has been done and objectives achieved. Operations are ended when their processes or deliverables are no longer up to date, when resources in use are worn out, when the environment no longer supports or accepts them, or when they are no longer a sustainable and profitable business."

Not everyone would agree with this cut and dried answer, especially in the "uniqueness" aspect. But then that depends on how you define "unique" — must it be absolute, or just comparative?

Book Structure  Book Structure

7. For the record, out of the total of 180 possible responses, we got less than half of them anywhere close and of the remainder, we had some difficulty with the author's suggestions. Well — let us just say a good topic for further discussion.
8. Ibid, p2
9. Ibid, p231
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