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 authors.
Published here November 2015

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Summary


We do have a few "nitpicks", probably matters of opinion depending on the reader's preconceived notions. The first is that we just hate long sentences and here is a prime example, one of several. In discussing Program Management as "a key driver to maturing business capability and growing sustainable value"[15] the authors observe:[16]

"In addition to the classic business capabilities defined in the value chain (sales, operations, etc.) a modern, dynamic, and fast-paced environment requires that a core competence of any organization going forward must be the ability to identify, react, and adapt to change (in technology, attitudes, trends, and so on) to ensure continued relevance and competitive viability."

If you can get your mind around this 56 word marketing hype sentence, you are doing well.

We take issue with the authors' suggestion that one of the conditions that traditional leadership strives to stamp out is "Failure, and acceptance that some failure (albeit, not catastrophic) is a part of the journey and should be embraced."[17] This is far too sweeping. Well-run companies allow new employees to hold progressive responsibilities that provide them the opportunity to learn from such challenges first hand. The authors further suggest that: "the concept of 'ready, fire, aim' is more conducive to many modern situations".[18] That may be more prevalent today, but is still an abdication of good management.

In Chapter 3, Stakeholder engagement and involvement, the authors describe and emphasize the importance of having a communications policy and plan — a position with which we entirely agree. However, they go on to observe that: "Once the communication plan has been established, it is critical that it is shared among the team and the business, and enforced."[19] With this we also agree, but given the disparate nature of the collection of stakeholders on most projects, who does the "enforcing"?

In setting expectations, under Expectation Management,[20] there are a couple of scenarios[21] that we have experienced that the authors might have mentioned. The first is the case where employees refuse to cooperate simply because they are highly disgruntled with some other action by the organization which has no connections to the project whatsoever. They use the project simply to make their presence felt. The second case is where management has issued an over arching vision statement that "By delivering the same message consistently, the project team demonstrate cohesiveness and buy-in to the solution."[22] Unfortunately, many employees neither understand the vision statement, nor see the need for it. Thus, far from demonstrating cohesiveness, the repetition of the vision statement becomes no more that "lip service".

But here's the big one. In Section 4, the first chapter, Chapter 10, the authors discuss Roll-out: i.e., Marketing and socializing the solution. Here they observe: "Make no mistake. Change Management is one part of the trifecta required for a successful project execution and delivery."[23] The "trifecta" that they are talking about is shown in Figure 1.[24]

Figure 1: Trifecta of project execution and delivery related to triple constraints
Figure 1: Trifecta of project execution and delivery related to triple constraints

We are not sure that "trifecta" is the correct label. "Triad" might be a better descriptor. But the big issue is that, although still commonly used even by those who should know better, the triple constraint is an obsolete construct. The primary variables encountered in any project are "Scope and Quality (grade)" of the product on the one hand, giving rise to the "schedule and cost" incurred by the project on the other. For a comprehensive explanation and illustration see:

What We Liked  What We Liked

15. Ibid, p8
16. Ibid. Other examples can be found on p 29 and 33.
17. Ibid, p11
18. Ibid
19. Ibid, p47
20. Ibid, p57
21. Ibid, with disastrous consequences we might add.
22. Ibid, p60
23. Ibid, p183
24. Ibid, p184
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