HBR Guide to Project Management: A book review by Bob Morris

2Q==HBR Guide to Project Management
Various (23) Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (2012)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

This is one of the volumes in another series of anthologies of articles, previously published in Harvard Business Review, in which contributors share their insights concerning a major business subject, in this instance project management. As is also true of volumes in other such series, notably HBR Essentials, HBR Must Reads, and HBR Management Tips, HBR Guides offer great value in several ways. Here are two: Cutting-edge thinking from 25-30 sources in a single volume at a price (about $15.00 from Amazon in the paperbound version) for a fraction of what article reprints would cost.

Given the original HBR publication dates, some of the material in some of the volumes is — inevitably — dated such as references to specific situations in specific companies. However, the most valuable insights and lessons to be learned are timeless.

The material in the HBR Guide to Project Management was selected to help those who read this book to improve in areas that include building a strong, focused team; avoiding or overcoming major objectives into manageable tasks; creating a schedule that sustains team efforts; monitoring progress toward goals while revealing unexpected issues; managing stakeholders’ expectations; and completing the project and evaluating the nature and extent of success. If you need assistance in any of these areas, this book be of invaluable assistance now as well as in months and years to come, as will Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.

The authors of the 23 articles HOW TO:

o Complete pre-launch preparations (e.g. selecting team)
o Launch a project on the right foot
o Navigate the four phases of project management
o Cope with a project’s “frigging front end”
o Create value rather than wasting resources with “project creep”
o Set priorities and ranking them correctly
o Embed team and individuals with accountability
o Measure nature and extent of impact (i.e. progress)
o Manage disagreements, dissent, and other social dysfunctions
o Wrap-up a project
o Conduct a post-mortem
o Identify/share lessons learned from project

Although there are several “celebrity” contributors to this volume, notably Clayton Christensen and Jon Katzenbach, most are unfamiliar to most readers. Do not be deterred. Those who lack a “halo” provide some of the most valuable material, as Christensen and Katzenbach would be the first to agree.

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