Scott Berkun is my favourite writer of essays on managing people. Through the essays on his site and his essential PM Clinic mailing list, you can seek out, find and share advice on the best ways to manage people and successfully complete projects. He’s now written an amazing book, The Art of Project Management, that collects and distills years of experience and knowledge into an entertaining and comprehensive package. I feel as if I’ve taken a whole course in project management.
While I have some experience in managing projects, much how I do things is shaped by experience and trial and error. In reading the book much of what is said seems to be simple and common sense, but it’s amazing how often we don’t do the things that make the most sense. What is so valuable about the book is that it helps to understand why some things work and some things don’t. I recognized many of the situations in the book and wish that I’d had the insight that I gained from the book when I was dealing with those situations.
The book is divided into three major sections: “Plans”, “Skills”, and “Management” and within each section there are a series of examples and processes for dealing with all of the stages that a project goes through. Within my context I’m thinking of how this all can be applied to filmmaking, but the context of the book is software development. What strikes me about reading the book is how similar the processes are. I’ve done both software and film development, so I’ve seen it up close, but I didn’t realize that so many of the issues exist no matter what size the team is or what creative enterprise you are working on.
The philosophical core of the book is built around people and dealing with them. While some more manipulative techniques are described, there is always a warning about the short and long term risks of using those strategies. There is a refreshing candour and a lack of dogma in the methods described. I’ve read many books that excite me at first, but the ideas and philosophy are often more appealing than the practical application of the ideas. Berkun manages to strike a perfect balance between a management philosophy and a pragmatic approach. The book will definitely help you make things happen and get things done. You may also have more time to enjoy your work and your life.
While the book is well-written and structured, it feels like a nice long talk with someone who is being completely honest about the way things work. It’s the talk that you have with someone that shapes your whole professional life. The moment when you figure out that you can do a good job, treat people with respect, and not waste too much time and effort on things that won’t work. I’m going to keep the book close to my side and refer to it often.
technorati tags: book, review, artofpm, scottberkun, management, process