2 years ago I attended a conference within SAP that was organized with the goal of accelerating the innovation around mobile apps. There I received a book from Scott Berkun titled “The Myths of Innovation”. That was a great book itself, but later on I recognized that the same guy also wrote a book about project management, which I’ve completed reading now, and this latter one is I’m writing about here.
The book Making Things Happen does not want to sell you either a project management process or a philosophy. It’s rather about sharing real-life experience related to software projects, and going through various aspects and stages of project and program management and providing ideas and advice about what makes sense in these situations. The author used to be program manager at Microsoft for many years, so the thoughts in the book are especially vaulable for people working on large projects, but everyone who wants to go beyond the basics will find it very useful.
Again, this book is not about philosophy, but to my taste (being an agile fan) the guy has a bit too much of a waterfall-style mindset. Still, this is a good read for scrummers, XP folks and kanban enthusiasts for the following reasons:
– There is no such a thing as a purely agile project. Recently I talked to a guy working for a wildly agile company. He had had to provide a mid-term project commitment and later he heavily struggled as their kanban methodology didn’t provide him any means to handle this kind of a situation. Sometimes everyone has to deal with people or situations that are more rigid than what fits into the lean / agile style. I think this book contains useful bits of advice on how to deal with such stuff.
– There are lots of things in and around project management, like dealing with people’s behavior, team culture, corporate politics etc., that are independent from whether your project is a controlled chaos or follows a precisely engineered process with less flexibility. This book talks a lot about communication, trust, power, crisis management and other similar things.
All in all, the same applies to this one as to all books: read it with an open mind, learn from it and apply what makes sense for you and skip what doesn’t.