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What I’m Reading: April 2015

Best project management books

Whoop! I have finished Mind Change*! It’s taken several months and lots of lugging it about on the train but it’s done. Having said that, I thought the earlier chapters were much more interesting than the bits about video gaming towards the end, but it was still an eye-opening read.

I’ve also read Driving Project, Program, and Portfolio Success: The Sustainability Wheel by Dave Shirley and Rich Maltzman, the authors behind Green Project Management. It’s not out yet but one of the perks of reviewing books is that I get to see them before they hit the shelves, and I offered the guys a nice comment to put on the cover too. It’s a practical guide to integrating ‘green’ into the business strategy delivered by your portfolios of projects, so if you work at PMO level it’s definitely worth a read. It’s also relevant to project managers, but you might as well start with Green PM first.

My least favourite thing I’ve read this month has to be Spider Sandwiches. It was a gift to the boys and they love it. Jack even went to bed with it once, which means it has trumped Thomas the Tank Engine’s Piano Book. When a book comes further up in his affection than something with a picture of Thomas on then you know it’s a winner. It’s the cockroach curry page that really gets my skin crawling. [click to continue…]

Power of Project Leadership: Giveaway winner

Earlier this month you had the chance to enter the draw to win a copy of Susanne Madsen’s book, The Power of Project Leadership. Thanks to everyone who entered: it was one of the most popular giveaways yet.

The winner is Egle from Vilnius, Lithuania. Congratulations! Your book is being dispatched direct from the publisher so expect it to be with you soon.

Look out for another great giveaway coming soon!

The Feedback Imperative [Book review]

Giving feedback on teams

Just today I’ve had numerous bits of feedback. An online purchase showed me how far through the process I was. My Kindle app used the speed of my reading to tell me how much longer it would take to finish the book. I was sent a letter from my solicitor asking me to complete a feedback form on a transaction they’ve just done for me. Feedback is everywhere.

And yet managers prefer to fire or manage out troublesome people who could potentially have been ‘fixed’ with feedback. Many of the younger people on your project teams expect feedback from their managers more frequently than older team members: it’s one of the defining traits of Millennials, although I’m personally not big on stereotyping a whole generation. She glosses over the best feedback approaches for older team members: I suppose they just have to put up with the change in management style to one that is feedback-heavy even if it isn’t their thing.

Having said that, it’s a good read. The Feedback Imperative is a book about why talking gives you better results. It’s a coaching model for how to give staff feedback without annoying them, and it starts with defining feedback. [click to continue…]

Successful project governance

Today I’m interviewing Richard Heaslip, author of Managing Complex Projects and Programs: How to Improve Leadership of Complex Initiatives Using a Third-Generation Approach*. He’s got some great insights into governance models and leadership in complex project environments.

Richard, thanks for being here. You started your career as a scientist. When did you first identify as a project manager?

That is a great question! I’ve considered myself a “professional project and program manager” for 15 or so years. I suppose I officially crossed over (from my technical career) when I recognised that I enjoyed being a project or program manager, I was good at it, and (most importantly) that I was making a real difference. It was then that I began thinking of project management more as a profession than as a role. I started thinking of myself less as a biological scientist (I was a research guy) and more as a “programmatic scientist.”

My teaching at Penn is an extension of that transformation; it is based on the belief that there really is a science to what project and program managers do. We need to develop that science and create opportunities for professionals to study and learn it more deeply. [click to continue…]

Free Template: Project Dependency Log

Project dependency log template

Download a free dependency log template to use on your projects. It will help you track what's going to have an impact on your project and keep you on top of any actions required. Oh, did I mention it's yours for free?

The Unpopularity of Status Meetings [Infographic]

Reasons to hate status meetings

35% of people say that status meetings are a waste of time. See more facts about how people rate attending status meetings in this infographic.

How to Prepare for Next Week

How to get organised for work

Make it easy to get straight to work on Monday with these tips for planning ahead. Use Friday afternoon to sort out your inbox and check your upcoming appointments so you can really enjoy the weekend and hit the ground running on Monday.

Win a copy of The Power of Project Leadership

Win a copy of The Power of Project Leadership by Susanne Madsen in this giveaway.

Directors, Listen Up: Let Project Managers Plan

Project management cartoon

I don’t care who you had lunch with, or what their golf handicap is: I want to be able to plan my project with the help of my team and then tell you when we can deliver. This cartoon explains the frustrations of fixed date projects.

20 Resources to make your projects easier

20 Resources to make your project easier

Every project manager has resources and tools that they use to simplify their projects. Here are 20 resources that I use to make it easier to manage my projects.