Breaking the Code of Project Management

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An examination of how to refigure project management to be more effective, particularly in terms of leadership. Contrary to the traditional wisdom of project management, planning and doing are not separate and sequential activities, but rather occur in tandem and interact in a dance of give-and-take. Successful projects require strong leadership, and this book presents five actionable principles of Results-Focused Leadership in a convincing and easy to digest format demonstrated by stories.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Many of us have been preaching for some years that the traditional analytical tools of project management best exemplified by CPM scheduling, have tiny impact on project success and failure. It’s actually all about the behavior and interactions of people. Dr. Laufer has brought into one book an account of all the people factors, considered perhaps for the first time as a whole system. The perceptions and scholarship are inspiring and the breadth of supporting data and opinion impressive. Getting a large body of differently skilled and differently motivated people to work together to achieve a single goal whilst everybody is constantly assaulted by the unexpected is the real project management challenge. This book will be a tremendous help to the profession in meeting the challenge."

Dr. Martin Barnes, President, Association for Project Management; former Chairman, Council of the International Project Management Association

"This is an extraordinary book and an exceptional resource for project managers. The experience I had in reading Breaking the Code was repeated flashes of “That’s it!” A series of “nuggets of wisdom” that I would want to pass on to protégé project managers. Fairly simple concepts that are not necessarily difficult to implement, but are not intuitive and typically learned only through trail by fire. It reads like the combined wisdom and experience of hundreds of years, distilled down into the important 1% and presented as a workable model of project management mastery. It should be revisited on a regular basis to inform every project manager’s changing reality, so be prepared to see dog-eared copies of this book on desks everywhere."

Scott Tibbitts, Managing Director, SpaceDev Inc.; Founder, Starsys Research Inc.

"This is a significant book. Anyone who has read the typical offerings on project management should read this one as an antidote. Anyone who hasn’t studied the standard works should start here and skip the others. “Breaking the code” means overcoming the standard procedures for managing projects. It also means figuring out how to really be successful. The book does both. Laufer helps us let go of the convenient fictions about well-ordered situations. Managers should be so lucky. Laufer shows that a “permanent white water” mentality is more apt. The tools that fit well-ordered situations aren't of much use in turbulent and complex environments. Fortunately, Laufer provides a set of strategies that are much more suited to the challenges facing project managers. And he gets this all across with a continuous stream of real-life stories."

Dr. Gary Klein, author of “Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions”

"All white-collar work today is project work. Experienced and less experienced project managers alike have all been waiting too long for this breakthrough in project management. In giving us the “real story” of project management, Breaking the Code of Project Management combines the rigor of Good to Great with the conviction of Organizing Genius and the spirit of In Search of Excellence. No project manager can afford not to read and re-read this superb book."

Dr. Edward J. Hoffman, Director, NASA Academy of Program and Project Engineering and Leadership

"This book is the breakthrough in projct management we’ve all been waiting for – real principles illustrated by real stories told by real people. Unlike other books on the subject, Breaking the Code of Project Management tackles central issues and dilemmas in the complex reality of today's project environments. By using stories drawn from the experiences of master project managers, Dr. Laufer provides us with cutting-edge guidelines for dealing with multiple and conflicting demands and adeptly demonstrates how they all work together to get the best results. Breaking the Code is the ultimate handbook in project management and a must-read for practitioners as well as for students."

Gregory A. Howell, Co-Founder & COO, Lean Construction Institute

"Agile programmers and non-software project managers alike, take note. In this book, Dr. Laufer synthesizes from within the field of classical project management the results of modern agile and lean software development, and more. He shows project management to be the human-centered, creative, and determined activity that it should be. For me, this book gives hope to the project management profession as a whole as well as to the future of software project management."

Dr. Alistair Cockburban, President, Humans and Technology, co-author of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development

"Breaking the Code is an important and timely book. It presents fresh concepts that are uniquely packaged and thought-provoking for both master project managers and beginners. Some books are valuable to practitioners within a specific industry, while others provide “truths” which are so basic that they transcend all boundaries. Breaking the Code definitely falls in the latter category. It will help project managers everywhere to understand their own practices and to think through their problems with sharper insight."

Ian Mitroff, Professor Emeritus of Business Policy, University of Southern California; author or co-author of 26 books, including “The Essential Guide to Managing Corporate Crisis” and “The Unbounded Mind”

"Dr. Laufer’s Results-Focused Leadership model is a simple, yet powerful and elegant, tool for successful project managers in their struggle to remain agile and responsive to our dynamic and globally competitive environment. His five eloquently presented principles are grounded in reality and provide practical and insightful advice and guidance for inspired leadership, effective communication, and the ‘unlearning’ of outdated concepts. A must read for all project managers."

Sylvia V. Baca, Vice President for Social Investment Programs and Strategic Partnerships, BP America

"Dr. Laufer not only understands that project management must evolve to meet current needs, but recognizes that the key to identifying cutting-edge concepts is to extract and document the tacit knowledge of competent practitioners. As in his earlier works, Dr. Laufer departs from conventional wisdom to provide real solutions for forward-looking organizations in the 21st century."

Hugh Woodward, former Chair, Project Management Institute

"Breaking the Code of Project Management focuses on the future of project management—a future in which the ability to take action early, reflect on those actions, and adapt quickly will lead to success. Rather than the traditional “corrective action,” the future is one of “adaptive action.” Laufer’s work, which is deeply aligned with agile principles, provides us with a fresh approach to the real dilemmas of project management."

Jim Highsmith, author of “Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products”

"Dr. Laufer has painted a masterpiece on the art of Project Management. By combining his research, personal experiences and real life stories, he has created a pallet of skills which both new and experienced project managers can use to evaluate and improve their own pallets so that they too can consistently deliver highly successful projects."

W. Scott Cameron, Global Project Management Process Owner, The Procter & Gamble Company

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230613515
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 2/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

DR. ALEX LAUFER is a chaired professor of civil engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, where he also served as the dean of the faculty. Currently, he serves as the director of the Center for Project Leadership of Columbia University and as a member of the editorial review board of the Project Management Jourbanal. During the last 20 years, Dr. Laufer has conducted research and taught at three U.S. universities. In his studies he has attempted to uncover, formulate, and articulate the “tacit” knowledge of competent project mangers. In the last decade, Dr. Laufer has authored or coauthored three books on project management. He has served as the editor-in-chief of the NASA Academy of Program and Project Leadership Magazine, ASK, Academy Sharing Knowledge, and also as a member of the advisory board of the NASA Academy of Program and Project Leadership.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Real Story of Project Management: Results-focused Leadership
The Green Principle, Plan and Control to Embrace Change
The Brown Principle, Create a Results Oriented Focus
The Yellow Principle, Develop a Will to Win
The Red Principle, Collaborate Through Interdependence and Trust
The Gray Principle, Update and Connect Through Intensive Communication
Epilogue: Becoming a Results-focused Leader: From Geometric Order to Living Order

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