October 15, 2007

News & Opinion: Ask 8cr! - Project Management

By: Aaron Schleicher @ 3:58 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Welcome to "Ask 8cr!" - a new section of our blog where we've created a forum to find out what kinds of issues and challenges people are having in the workplace. We then take these issues and apply a business book we feel offers a viable solution. Others then chime in via the comments section. The person with the selected challenge gets a free copy of the book, but everyone who reads these posts, wins. Do you have a challenge at work? Send it to me at jon(a)800ceoread(dot)com.
Today's challenge deals with managing projects. Here's a quick note from one of our readers:
"Here's a challenge from my desk: Project management -- Taking a project, breaking it down into tasks and assignments to delegatees, tracking said project, reeling in components from all concerned and wrapping it up." - Sandy
Aaron J. Shenhar and Dov Dvir have written Reinventing Project Management, a book that examines more than 600 projects by businesses around the world. These examinations reveal a model for successful planning, managing, and completing projects. While others have written about the topic, Shenhar and Dvir offer an updated perspective on it, explaining their Diamond Framework, and a series of models: NTCP, Adaptive, etc. to reveal a tested and productive system for taking on any variety of projects.

The authors state:
"To go beyond the conventional practices of project management, we must begin by recognizing that one size does not fit all. Unlike operations, which are repetitive, each project by definition is unique. Every project represents a new experience, addressing a new problem with a new constellation of management challenges, and the management process is never a matter of repeating known steps and procedures."

"When we survey a wide range of projects, we may find considerable variability -- but also quite a number of common features. Indeed, as you will see, the variability itself follows certain patterns, and this means that we can develop general methods for handling various types of projects. This characteristic variability has not been captured so far in the current project management literature and is not part of the common body of knowledge."

From there, the authors identify the bases of successful projects and detail how to put the approach to work, considering a project's purpose and how markets and industries can affect project management. Case studies feature The Denver Airport, The Sydney Opera House, The Los Angeles Metro, and other highly complex projects that utilized the methods within the book. The book finishes with an expansive Research Appendix, that describes what data and steps the authors worked with to produce their results. Again, this isn't a book about theory, but practice; something anyone managing or working on projects can learn and apply to their team for successful results.

About Aaron Schleicher

Aaron Schleicher has been the author services specialist at 800-CEO-READ since 2004. You can usually find him hidden under a baseball cap, feet kicked up on his desk, talking with authors, publishers, and businesses. Outside the office you can find him crafting candles, listening to records, and making music with friends and family.