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Review: Scott Berkun's 'The Art of Project Management'

oreilly.com — Online Catalog: The Art of Project Management

O’Reilly recently sent me a review copy of Scott Berkun’s The Art of Project Management. I’ve read a couple chapters through, and—as the author himself has recommended—have grazed through a bunch of the sections that looked especially interesting to me. See, I have a marker for a non-fiction book that’s really connecting with me—as I’m reading it, I find myself repeatedly cursing the fact that it didn’t exist earlier. I’m definitely feeling that with this one.

Where so many Project Management books fetishize GANTT charts, waterfalls, and abstract planning methods, most of Berkun’s book lives much further down in the trenches—where misunderstandings happen, dates slip, and bad decisions threaten to derail your project. The book is full of really practical advice on handling these challenges in the real world. And, yes, I really wish it had existed 7 or 8 years ago. As it is, many of my bouncer skills were primitively self-taught.

One of my favorite chapters, as you might guess, is called “How Not to Annoy People: Process, Email, and Meetings.” It includes a useful bit on how to write good email that I wish everyone who owned a computer would consider reading and then stapling to their monitor.

Offer an action and a deadline. The best kind of email has a specific intention or request that is clearly stated, and, if appropriate, is tied to a reasonable deadline. It should be easy for people reading the email to understand why they are receiving it, how they are impacted by the action, and what they need to do (before the deadline). Assuming you enforce the deadline (“Requests must be in to me by Friday”), you set yourself up for people to be attentive to future actions you communicate through email, which puts you in a position of power.

There’s a PDF of a sample chapter (Chapter 3: How to figure out what to do) on the O’Reilly book site to give you a flavor. But if your job includes any kind of project management especially in the world of web development, you might want to have a look at this. The skills Berkun encourages go beyond one team member’s role, though—communicating well, meeting deadlines, and moving your piece of the project forward are the skills that make anyone the team’s MVP.

Todd's picture

Thanks Merlin, these are great...

Thanks Merlin, these are great recommendations. I know what I'm doing on my lunch hour today!




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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