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REVIEW: "Making Things Happen", Scott Berkun

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKMATHHA.RVW 20081124 Making Things Happen , Scott Berkun, 2008, 978-0-596-51771-7, U$39.99/C$39.99 %A Scott Berkun www.scottberkun.com %C 103 Morris
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2008
      BKMATHHA.RVW 20081124

      "Making Things Happen", Scott Berkun, 2008, 978-0-596-51771-7,
      %A Scott Berkun www.scottberkun.com
      %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
      %D 2008
      %G 978-0-596-51771-7 0-596-51771-8
      %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
      %O U$39.99/C$39.99 800-998-9938 707-829-0515 fax: 707-829-0104
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596517718/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596517718/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience n- Tech 1 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 392 p.
      %T "Making Things Happen"

      This is actually the second edition of "The Art of Project
      Management," with a few additions.

      The preface states that the audience for the book consists of new or
      experienced managers or team leaders, programmers working on large
      projects, or students of business management, product design, or
      software engineering. Chapter one is titularly a history of project
      management, but contains vague and pedestrian advice with little
      historical background of any substance. There is a mention that
      Microsoft's program management incorporates both technical and
      marketing input, but the text does not say much about management as
      such. (Berkun does state that Microsoft's system is an example of
      "matrix organization," but although this term is used a number of
      times and is obviously significant to the author, the concept is not
      well defined in the book.) A list of conflicting behaviours and
      characteristics of managers could possibly be useful as a reminder to
      examine one's own preferences and conduct. New to this edition are
      exercises at the end of each chapter. The examples and wording are
      silly, but they still provide decent ideas for getting people thinking
      about project management concepts. It is an improvement on the
      original work.

      Part one outlines the planning phase and activities involved in a
      project. Chapter two takes a rather pessimistic look at schedules.
      There are good points on the purpose and psychological benefits of
      timetables, as well as practical advice on rough estimates and how to
      make them more accurate, but the material is also bloated with
      verbiage. The look at planning, in chapter three, concentrates on
      arguments and communications, but is not organized very well. "The
      vision thing" is often undefined in business, and chapter four doesn't
      stray far from the vague model, but it does cover overall objectives
      and offers some tips on how to write vision documents. Chapter five,
      while it is supposed to deal with how to generate ideas, focuses on
      requirements, specifications, and the elicitation of those details.
      Working with, and developing those ideas is the topic of chapter six,
      which also minimally analyses scope creep, an ever present danger in
      any project.

      Part two turns to specific project management skills. Chapter seven
      examines the writing of specifications, and is mostly a warning
      against the over-engineered "one-size-fits-all" templates suggested
      for that purpose. Berkun gives us the standard advice on making
      decisions, in chapter eight. The usual admonitions are also given in
      chapter nine, this time about communication and relationships. It is
      rather ironic that chapter ten, in giving a list of ways to annoy
      people (and conversely, how not to), states right off the top that the
      best way to make people turn you off is to assume that they are
      ignorant. The text then goes on to provide generic and banal counsel
      on process (mostly administrative controls). The recommendations on
      using email repeat tips given previously on communications, and miss
      the fact that email really is a very specialized form and subject to
      generating misunderstandings. The tips for planning meetings are
      decent, but limited. Chapter eleven has vague guidance on what to do
      when things go wrong.

      Part three is entitled management, but concentrates on leadership.
      Some good messages on trust are given in chapter twelve, but the
      content is more verbose than necessary, and the basic tips get lost in
      the stories. Chapter thirteen is supposed to be about "making things
      happen," but ends up being a grab bag of project operation topics and
      tips. Scheduling is revisited in chapter fourteen, with more low-
      level detail. Pinning down a topic for chapter fifteen is difficult,
      but much of the content deals with changes to requirements, and
      setting priorities for handling bugs. Chapter sixteen finishes off
      the book with a melange of politics and psychology.

      It is hard to find specific instances of new additions or changes to
      this work, but it definitely has improved. The addition of the
      exercises was a plus, giving the reader more to think about than just
      Berkun's pronouncements. Experienced managers might find this amusing
      and potentially useful bedtime reading: there won't be anything new,
      but there may have been some things you've forgotten. Those who are
      new to the management task will probably find this to be a helpful
      guide: there are pieces missing, but most of the important stuff is
      here, and it gives you enough to get going.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006, 2008 BKMATHHA.RVW 20081124

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
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      I don't yet have a solution, but I have a new name for the
      problem. - Ross A. Leo, CISSPforum, 20050712
      victoria.tc.ca/techrev/rms.htm blogs.securiteam.com/index.php/archives/author/p1/
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