But according to author Scott Berkun, it doesn't need to be that way. His latest book, Making Things Happen (O'Reilly, US $39.99), offers a lively, inspiring, and practical approach to managing projects that draws on Berkun's own lessons learned in more than a decade of work in the industry. The book is an updated edition of Berkun's classic bestseller, The Art of Project Management.
"I'd yet to find a book on leading project teams that didn't bore me to tears," said Berkun when asked about his motivation for writing the book. "Every great engineered thing ever made, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Eiffel Tower to the Internet was made by teams of people, and I thought it was a crime against those triumphs if there wasn't a book about what really happens on project teams and how leaders handle it. I wanted to capture all the things I'd learned over a decade and increase the odds other people wouldn't have to make the same mistakes I did.
"How much of the software on the web that you use do you think is good?" Berkun asks. "If it's a small percentage, you can't blame the lack of amazing technology available to developers. The cause of poorly made things is something else--it's how projects are led and managed. My book is a handbook for people trying to make good things happen and who care about the intangible, human elements that software engineering and technology books typically overlook."
Making Things Happen doesn't cite specific methods, but focuses on philosophy and strategy. Topics in this new edition include:
- How to make things happen
- Making good decisions
- Specifications and requirements
- Ideas and what to do with them
- How not to annoy people
- Leadership and trust
- The truth about making dates
- What to do when things go wrong
Complete with a new forward from the author and a discussion guide for forming reading groups/teams, Making Things Happen offers in-depth exercises to help readers apply lessons from the book to their work. Coming from the rare perspective of someone who fought difficult battles on Microsoft's biggest projects and taught project design and management for MSTE, Microsoft's internal best practices group, this is valuable advice indeed.
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Scott Berkun is the author of The Art of Project Management and The Myths of Innovation. He currently works as an independent consultant in project management and product design, and runs the pmclinic, a friendly discussion forum on project management issues at www.scottberkun.com.
For more information about this book, including table of contents, index, author bios, and cover graphic, see the catalog page for Making Things Happen.
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