Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle

How to Manage the People Side of Projects

 Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle

Author: Doug Russell, PMP
Pub Date: March 2011
Print Edition: $19.95
Print ISBN: 9780814416150
Page Count: 272
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814416167

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Welcome to the Project

Management Jungle

IT IS 1:15 A.M., a Tuesday night like any other. A lone light burns inside

a beautiful Tudor-style custom home on the edge of the Northwest

Hills in Austin, Texas. Inside, yet another busy project manager

struggles to complete his work for the day, entangled within the

project management jungle. In this unrelenting, always-on, pressure-

cooker environment, he juggles hundreds of e-mails per day,

endless meetings that accomplish little, stakeholders with impossible

expectations, and new problems that should have been foreseen

before they consumed additional money, resources, and

attention.

His two remaining tasks for the night are to finish up preparations

for his monthly ops review with management, scheduled for

the next morning, and to generate an approach on how to get his

design and test functional teams to work better together. The two

teams have been fighting with each other for weeks and are doing

little real work to solve their issues. That meeting is tomorrow, as

well, “sometime after 5:00 P.M.”

Down the hall, his two gorgeous children, five and three years

old, slumber away. He guiltily resolves, yet again, to take them to

the park on Saturday. Or perhaps it will have to be Sunday. He did

at least spend a few minutes with them earlier that evening, tossing

a small basketball, before they went off to bed and he off to his

Mac. His wife, hoping to spend some time with him watching a

DVD together, chatting about the kids, or talking about the possibility

of a vacation, has given up and gone to bed.

He sends several e-mails and then, cursing to himself, realizes

that he has misplaced a key notebook. Quietly, he slips into the

master bedroom to check a stack beside the bed. He glances fondly

down at his dozing wife as he finds the notebook and sighs as

he leaves the room. He wishes there were another way to easily

lead his large project group in the complex task at hand. So many

issues, he muses. Got to make it happen, though. Winners do what

is necessary to win. With one last look at his wife, he thinks firmly,

There will be time for catching up on all this when the project

is over.

His cell phone rings from the study. Frustrated that he cannot

finish his current tasks, he hurries to answer. It is his Asian customer,

full of questions about the latest status report. Wearily, he

tries to explain. He can tell his customer is not very happy with the

answers.

Forty-five minutes later—not really done yet—he stops for the

day, noting e-mail traffic coming in from all over the world, including

places where it is even later at night. Exhausted, he falls into

bed, trying not to make too much commotion. He rolls over and

almost immediately drops into sleep. The alarm will go off in four

short hours, and he will do it all over again.

Sound familiar? Welcome to the project management jungle!

Escape Is Possible from the Project

Management Jungle

You may think that immense stress and a large time investment are

the price of success as a project leader. But there is another way. In

the past few years, I have led multiple teams in several companies

to success without working excessive hours and while experiencing

much less stress than our friend here. This book will help you do

the same on your projects without going to lengthy weeklong training

classes or spending massive dollars on a new process.

Sadly, success in the project management jungle is too often not

the end result of all the effort involved. Enter “project success rate”

into a Web search engine and the results are disturbing, with many

studies quoting success rates of only 30 to 50 percent. Of course,

the majority of studies look at myriad teams in a variety of industries

and applications, and each study has its own definition of success,

making it hard to find a baseline for a clear picture.

Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle is aimed primarily

at active project managers who work with knowledge worker teams.

The term knowledge worker, of course, covers a lot of territory. After

all, virtually everyone in today’s workplace works with some sort of

data. We will focus on knowledge worker teams employed in information

technology (IT), software, hardware, systems design, and

other engineering or technically related applications. These professionals

struggle in the project management jungle every day.

Read on to learn about five key factors that create this jungle

environment. Then keep reading, and by the end of this book you

will have learned how to thrive there.

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