Advances in Project Management [Book review]

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I was very excited to receive Advances in Project Management because I like to keep abreast of what others think is important in my field. It wasn’t really new material, which was disappointing. It’s a compilation from extracts and summaries of the Advances in Project Management series by Gower, but it doesn’t include anything from my book. ).
I am not bitter about being left out, but I do have a lot to offer series editor Darren Dalcher. I am always a little star struck when I meet him. This book, which he edited, claims to be an “accessible introduction to further topics.” It is true. Second Order Project Management by Michael Cavanagh was almost impossible to understand, but his chapter in this book made it clear. He quotes a survey participant as saying:
Priorities are cost, schedule and resources. When in reality, we should be thinking about relationships, infrastructure, and ways of working.
It is very true.
A little light on the advances’
You might feel that the book is lacking in ‘advances’ if you are keeping up to date with current topics in project management. David Cleden, for instance, presented his thinking backwards model for dealing with uncertainty at a National Centre for Project Management conference many years ago. Although it’s a useful technique and will be new to many readers, the book could have been more cutting-edge.
Another example: Who talks anymore about managing stakeholders? We engage them, and they’ve been engaging us in the current literature for some time now, so I feel that the book’s writers should have also picked up on this.
Teaser topics, short chapters
You may feel the chapters are too short and want more information, a case study, or a practical example of how to use this technique in your work.
I think that’s the point. It is meant to introduce you to the Advances series. It did introduce me to spirituality in project teams. I have not yet read the book by Julia Neal or Alan Harpham on the subject.
They talk about spirituality and religion in their chapter. Personally, I found it difficult to separate the two and couldn’t see how’spirituality,’ as they used it, was different from ‘project culture’. Food for thought.
The cover of Advances in Project Management edited by Darren DalcherFocusing upon ambiguity
The book is focused on risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity because all of these are topics that should be addressed by modern project managers.
It would be wrong for us to claim that this book is not innovative or new. It is worth reading about earned schedule and the limitations of traditional EV/SPI calculations. It’s a lengthy chapter and difficult to summarize here, but it does address the issue of SPI=1 even if a project is finished late.
The future of project management
Michael Hatfield’s chapter on the coming of a seachange in project management science is the best. He also criticizes bloggers for expressing skepticism about how management should work. Let’s not get too technical.
I don’t think we’ll see a major shift – like a metamorphosis. But, I do believe that we will see a gradual evolution in project management. His chapter was refreshing in its thinking. He writes that project management pundits and theorists can offer any ideas about how management should be done. The free market will continue to implement those ideas that work, and ignore those that don’t.
I laughed so hard when I read this:
I fully anticipate that this process will result in a lot of modern risk management theory being lost.
David Hillson and Michael Hatfield could be my new dream dinner party guests.
Michael predic