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[techbooks] REVIEW: "Making it Happen", Mackenzie Kyle

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKMAKHAP.RVW 990211 Making it Happen , Mackenzie Kyle, 1998, 0-471-64234-7, U$27.95/C$24.95 %A Mackenzie Kyle mkyle@direct.ca %C 5353 Dundas Street
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 22, 1999
      BKMAKHAP.RVW 990211

      "Making it Happen", Mackenzie Kyle, 1998, 0-471-64234-7,
      U$27.95/C$24.95
      %A Mackenzie Kyle mkyle@...
      %C 5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6H8
      %D 1998
      %G 0-471-64234-7
      %I John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
      %O U$27.95/C$24.95 416-236-4433 fax 416-236-4448 rlangloi@...
      %P 247 p.
      %T "Making it Happen: A Non-Technical Guide to Project Management"

      Now, how do I classify this? If I say it is fiction, then you might
      miss the fact that the material herein is instructional, and intensely
      real. If I say that this is a management guide, people will stay away
      from it in droves, unaware of how readable it is.

      The book is in the form of a novel (or, perhaps, novelette). Not the
      Great Canadian Novel, maybe. Maybe the Great Project Management
      Novella. (Well, we'll reserve judgement on the "Great" for the
      moment.)

      All right, then, we *will* talk about "Great." This volume is
      certainly readable, and easily interesting enough to qualify as
      bathroom or bedside fodder. Kyle grabs your attention with a
      reasonably sympathetic character in a difficult situation. The author
      does not take dangerous chances with either the characters or
      situation, so as fiction it is somewhat bland. That does, however,
      leave you enough concentration free to deal with the educational
      content.

      The management substance is realistic, and the more palatable for
      taking potshots at manajargon and MBA-speak. I have definitely read
      management tomes with more verbiage and much less content. The early
      chapters are used to set the stage, rather than get into practical
      matters, but they also serve to present the sense of frustration and
      confusion that is all too familiar to anyone who has undertaken such a
      task. Besides, with the storyline, I am quite willing to wait for the
      meat.

      And meat there is. Kyle's outline, although not presented in a linear
      manner, addresses not only specific functional business needs, but
      also the "why"s of several points. A rather subtle lesson points out
      that "political" activities have a purpose as well, in a positive way,
      as well as the negative ones more often recognized. For those not
      comfortable with the somewhat scattered presentation necessitated by
      the story, the major points are brought out in a boxed format that
      gets more frequent as the book progresses. In fact, the story does
      start to suffer as the book moves on. There are only so many
      "emergencies" you can pack into a plot before the audience stops
      caring. There is also only so much ignorance you can attribute to one
      project manager before the willing suspension of disbelief starts to
      fray at the edges. However, the pace does pick up as the project gets
      down to the wire.

      The different types of planning tools, with their strengths and
      weaknesses, get a quick, but reasonable overview.

      This definitely deserves a place on the management shelf, alongside
      "Technimanagement" (cf. BKTCHNMN.RVW).

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999 BKMAKHAP.RVW 990211

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