About the Authors and Their Books
For those who may not know, Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director at the International Institute of Learning, Inc., a global learning solutions company that conducts training for leading corporations throughout the world. He is a globally recognized expert on project, program and portfolio management, total quality management, and strategic planning. Frank Saladis is a Senior Consultant and Trainer for IIL and editor of the allPM.com newsletter, a popular online regular project management publication.
All three books have an interesting format. Almost wherever you open the book, on the left hand side is an illustration of some sort while on the right hand side is a corresponding explanatory text. For the executives, the illustrations are mostly black and white photos with an explanatory caption. For the functional managers, there are rather more charts or just plain texts, while for the project managers, these pages display charts, tables or plain texts. The explanatory texts vary in length from less than half a page to about three quarters. Interestingly, on average the texts for the functional managers tend to be the longest.
At this point, we cannot help being reminded of the hoary old joke, the conversation between a pessimist, optimist and a project manager discussing the proverbial glass of water. The pessimist felt it was half empty. The optimist felt that it was half full. The project manager, on the other hand, felt that the glass was twice as big as it needed to be.
Although these observations may seem somewhat petty, it does suggest to us a reflection of the state of development of our understanding of each of the three realms. In other words, our understanding of what executives really need to know is limited, while at the other end of the scale, project management (i.e. as described in the value-driven book) is much better understood. In turn, this suggests that there should be considerable opportunities for research into what simple graphical content would be most valuable for the tuition of executives.
Given the extent of project management terminology, and the lack of consensus over the meanings of specific terms, we were disappointed to find that all three books lacked a relevant glossary of terms appearing in the respective works.
Nevertheless, the design of these books provides fast access to essential project management wisdom. Indeed, all three books provide an excellent reference for project management consultants wishing to brush up or augment their training course slides when presenting to their respective levels of management.
From here on in, we will take a look at each book separately.