The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of Peter Taylor.
Published here September 2017

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
The Interesting Part | Downside | Summary

What We Liked

Author Peter Taylor's framing of the potential for much improved project management communications through social communicating, the real subject of this book, is indeed captivating. So appealing, in fact, that it is difficult to know where to start. But, as my father used to drill into me as a child, the right place to start is always at the beginning. So it is that a word of caution is appropriate. The project environment envisaged is that of intense office work that easily conflicts with home life, rather than for those working out in the field — i.e. those who can go home at night and leave their work behind.

Lindsay Scott[8] provides a Foreword in which she observes:

"Peter has given us a book that moves the practices of social project managers and project management on. As the project management profession continues to attract many different and diverse people with different ideas about managing people and successful projects, it stands to reason that there will be crossovers between our 'social selves' and our 'work selves'. As a profession, we need to understand what those characteristics of good social working are, the skills that can be improved in our selves, the support our organizations can offer and, ultimately, a clear benefit for the projects we manage."

And in a second Foreword, Paul Bamford exclaims:[9]

"The world is changing in many ways ... We no longer 'go to work', we just work."

And then in a later observation,

"The reality is getting the balance right between using the project control to set the boundaries and then letting the project members breathe and get the work done."

At the outset, Peter Taylor declares that: "there is no such thing as a non-social project."[10] He believes that project management is now entering its fourth phase[11]. That is, we have "a period of transition as technology — in particular the social tools — offers a platform for this new way of collective and collaborative way of working ... commonly referred to as "social project management'."[12]

But here Peter inserts a caveat that needs to be accounted for: "... social project management recognizes that there are clearly two worlds:

  • First, the world of the large, enterprise project requiring more centralized control; and
  • Second, the world of the smaller, less complex projects that can thrive in a decentralized controlling manner"[13]

True, these are different in that they require a different approach to management and discipline, but does that also mean a different vehicle for communication? We think not. After all, Email is used extensively in both project management arenas and, in fact, there are many more arenas than just those two, where Email works just fine.[14]

Book Structure  Book Structure

8. See reference to Lindsay Scott earlier and see page vxii
9. Paul Bamforth is UK Managing Director at Textura Europe, previously Country Manager with Projectplace, pp vviii and xx
10. Taylor, Peter, The Social Project Manager, p1. The emphasis is ours.
11. According to Taylor, the four phases are: 1) Traditional Project Management as depicted by Dr. Harold Kerzner in many of his publications (p4); 2) A different way of working on product development as necessitated and conducted by project managers involved in software development projects (p7); 3) A transition that includes the adoption of social means of communicating, often as an overlay (p9), and 4) —presumably- full conversion to managing by social means.
12. Ibid, p3
13. Ibid, p9
14. In the past few years we have continued to assemble definitions for our Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms. Now, however, we have tried using the database to extract terms that are relevant to specific areas of product interest to make the resulting sub-glossaries more focused. The challenge is: How do we establish appropriate sub-glossaries? (See: It occurs to us that social project management is facing a similar communication challenge.
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